Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 2

Kevin Brenner

Injustice in Upton Sinclairs The Jungle

Block 4

"I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach". When Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle his purpose was to expose the exploitation of the working class in the United States. The Jungle served to build a case for socialism by depicting, through the eyes of a newly arrived European immigrant in Chicago, the destruction of the American dream. Unfortunately, he considered his work, for the most part, a failure. Upon being published the focus of his book was quickly shifted from anticapitalism to the poor conditions of the nations stockyards and killing floors. The Jungle follows the life of a Lithuanian immigrant, Jurgis Rudkus, who has recently moved to Chicago hoping to find the American dream. Jurgis and his family of 12, partially due to illiteracy, quickly fall prey to con-men, and soon discover every member of the family, men, women and children must work to produce just enough money to stay alive. They come to the realization that the American dream is a delusion. After his wife dies in childbirth and his son drowns in a muddy street in front of his house, Jurgis, alone, flees Chicago in despair and completely hopeless. He returns to Packingtown but after only a couple good jobs he falls into desperate poverty once again. Then one night Jurgis wanders into a lecture by a Socialist politician. He is utterly intrigued by Socialism and its superiority over a Capitalist economy. The book ends with a strong Socialist message "Organize! Organize! Organize! ... CHICAGO WILL BE OURS!" (The Jungle) Sinclair has difficulty using Characterization to arouse sentiment; instead he sticks to imagery and conflict. Rather than creating deep and detailed characters with strong obvious emotions he elicits sympathy through stories that contain conflict and great imagery. The conflicts are often based on injustice that destroys Jurgis and examples of Sinclairs beautiful imagery come as detailed descriptions of terrible working conditions or physical harm from the entrapments of poverty frostbite, injuries and disease from work, inability to pay for doctors, homelessness, and hunger. What Jurgis found in Packingtown was an array of workers all trying to make a little extra, not necessarily legally, and all trying to outdo one another while also overworking anyone underneath them. Sinclairs novel also illustrates how much of a trap poverty is. Every time Jurgis is doing well he is struck by injustice that once again throws him into hopelessness. He clutched her hands, he shook her,

Kevin Brenner

Injustice in Upton Sinclairs The Jungle

Block 4

he caught her in his arms and pressed her to him but she lay cold and stillshe was goneshe was gone! Ona died in childbirth and Jurgis could do nothing. "It's Antanas. He's dead. He was drowned out in the street!" (The Jungle) This came after Jurgis saw a glimmer of hope in a wonderful job that paid well and had many benefits. Poverty killed Ona, who only died because they didnt have enough money to pay for a doctor. Poverty killed little Antanas, had they lived on a paved street in a fancy neighborhood it would have never occurred. Poverty killed Jurgis own father who was forced to work and died from an infection he got from work. Poverty left Jurgis hungry on so many different occasions throughout the book and poverty almost killed him over the bitter cold winters of Chicago. Sympathy comes naturally as tragic events happen to Jurgis at every turn. He is never allowed to be happy for a long period of time. One of the most heartbreaking stories plays out when Jurgis is befriended by an extremely wealthy man. After the man gives him a hundred dollar bill Jurgis believes hes finally hit a milestone, he will get himself out of poverty, off the streets and he will build a real life. He goes to get his newly acquired hundred dollar bill changed into smaller bills at a bar, but the bartender gives him only one dollar back. After Jurgis attacks the bartender for stealing his money, he lands in jail. When he gets out Jurgis is once again penniless and deprived of all hope. Upton Sinclair considered his work a failure because the socialist point that he originally tried to get across was whitewashed by the detail he put into the stockyards and killing floors. But his constantly reoccurring themes of conflict and injustice are obvious when a person reads his book. The Jungle not only started a movement to cleanup food being sold to the US population, it also became a book read in schools and colleges across the country. His socialist ideas have lived on and the injustice that is described in the book can still be applied to the wage slavery found today. Upton Sinclair did a great job depicting the metaphorical enslavement of Americas poor and injustice is a constant theme throughout his book.

Centres d'intérêt liés