The Jungle Essay

Submitted By alongo4
Words: 1173
Pages: 5

Allie Longo
Prof. Patterson
14 April, 2013

The Jungle

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is an integral piece of modern literature. The title is meant to reflect the Darwinian Jungle, how the strong prey on the weak and how all living things are engaged in a brutal fight for survival. “Social Darwinism was an idea used by some nineteenth-century thinkers to justify the abuses of wealthy capitalists.” This idea stated that society was designed to reward the most successful people, while the less successful people were kept at a lower level. By relating the story of a group of honest, hardworking immigrants who are destroyed by corruption and evil, Sinclair tries to overturn the idea of Social Darwinism, by implying that those who succeed in the capitalist system are not the best of mankind but rather the worst and most corrupt of all. Originally, Sinclair tried to explain the horrors of socialism, but in reality the author captivated society to focus on the atrocities that were occurring within the meat packing industry. Chicago is the main setting of The Jungle. Many immigrants came to the United States after hearing the good news of great success and fortune that many of their relatives were having. Although these successes were shared prematurely. The main character of The Jungle is Jurgis, this man is excited to have a job and follow the American Dream. Originally, Upton Sinclair was attempting to write about the plight of immigrants. But, in reality, the horrors of the meat packing industry were exposed. Sinclair wrote descriptions of diseased, rotten, and contaminated meat that shocked the public and led to new federal food and safety laws. “The meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there.” This quote is just one of many in which Sinclair thoughtfully and graphically depicts the horrid and filthy conditions of an industry that should withhold some of the highest sanitary standards. This disgust was not just on the end of the employee, but rather on behalf of the employer. The Chicago meat packing industry was led by corrupt individuals who did not care what condition there factories were in. “Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water—and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast.” Yet again, Upton Sinclair accidentally depicted the atrocities of filth and disgust. Even though Sinclair did not originally mean to show how terrible the conditions of the meat packing industry were, they were very clearly illustrated. Upton Sinclair depicts the evils of capitalism through his main character Jurgis. Jurgis and his family start out strong and healthy, looking for a better life in America. Bit by bit the greed of the corporations they work for breaks them. Everyone around the family in the novel is looking for the best way to make the most money without caring about who or what they are destroying in the process. Capitalism is defined as: “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are