Upton Sinclair's the Jungle

Upton Sinclair's the Jungle

The Jungle authored by Sinclair Upton is a vibrant and moving description of the slaughtering and meat handling industry at the beginning of the 20th century (Fitzgerald 62). The novel is a well-structured and informed assessment of the financial, political and social problems that dominated the food processing sector and the rampant growth of the capitalist society back in the 20th century. The Jungle is disputably one of the most valuable publications in the American history based on the fact that it does not only offer new information about the industry during the period but also highlight some of the most pressing socioeconomic and political issues that affected the society (Sachs 206). It is widely agreed that for Sinclair the primary objective for authoring the book for to bring about social reform by addressing sensitive issues. It is without a doubt that the intended audience for the book was the American society as the public was directly affected the most as consumers and citizens of America as well as immigrants. The novel is structured in a fictional form which helps in demonstrating the actual situation of immigrants who arrived in the country in search of the American dream in the 20th century but acquired nothing but pain and suffering by being subjected to cruel poverty (Sachs 206).  The Jungle is a valuable source for the American history as it radiantly explores the socio-economic disparities of labor in the food industry powered by capitalism.

The Jungle has retained its significance past a decade later as a recap and warning to the public and policymakers regarding the complexity of the food industry and possibility of ill-treatment of employees and animals. The cluster of the food sector that was initiated in the early 20th century is the base of today’s food industry and from this influence meet processing in America is still being handled by just a few well-established firms (Sinclair 16). Through the eyes of Sinclair, the state is essential in comprehending the wickedness of the sector and its destructive implications on the society. The book is perhaps the most referenced historic and political publication in America since it has achieved a high level of public awareness regarding the meat processing system. However, it is worth noting that the book also focused on addressing other issues from a wider emphasis such as bias, social prejudice, immigration, poverty and entrepreneurship (Fitzgerald 63). The intention was to bring about social transformation in the society by highlighting some issues that most never knew they existed.

The Jungle tale is centered on Rudkus and Ona life, young immigrants and couple in America. Sinclair demonstrates that even though immigrants are involved in more intense strives to survive, eventually they are hit by the realization that they cannot succeed (Sinclair 16). The story begins at their wedding reception and even though they are both excited to face life together, challenges have already begun to form illustrating a rather difficult. At the end of the event, not enough money has been gathered to cater for the expenses. It becomes evident that there are several people with the tendency of attending such events unwelcome and leave without making any payment. The couple acquires a rather initiation to the ethical deterioration in the society in a rough way (Sinclair 16).

In Lithuania where they came from, life was particularly hard and they made the decision to travel in search of better living. Sinclair consistently applauses their physical power and unending effort to illustrate the manner in which his heartless labor will ultimately kill him (Sinclair 18). While their families are concerned with respect to their survival with no jobs Jurgis get nominated among many people based on his physical appearance which illustrates strength. Throughout the novel, Sinclair displays the oppressive and exploitative state of the food system. He offers a rather detailed analysis and description of the unhealthy and cold working condition faced by the workers and the processed products being meat. He states the manner in which in the firm’s milk is contaminated and sausages made from potatoes flour despite being a healthy nutrient. He turns and describes the general absence of job protection, workers privileges, and unequal treatments generally. During the time insights in regard to the spread and existence of illnesses such as cancer was low. This can be seen when one of Jurgis friend is overwhelmed after securing employment to paint cans which are among the most profitable jobs in the town (Sinclair 18). There is not even a single person who doubts the employment even though they are fully aware that not many people survive for more than ten years in the operation where the items are filled with dangerous chemicals. Through the most demanding times with the help of their families, they are able to survive and get a living even though they were poor. Sinclair humanizes the whole situation to connect directly with the readers which helps in creating awareness as well as familiarity with the issues. He uses dramatic and expressive experiences of the characters and their families in the quest of being meaningful through reliable analysis of the characters (Bloom 6). Throughout the narration, the working situations are provided for in details ranging from pain to emotions. This allows the readers to connect and assume the experiences to be personal and this creates a more stable base in which the readers can relate to the socio-economic issues that the author wishes to communicate (Sachs 206).

Before the saturation of slaughtering institutions and meat processing procedures in the 19th century, animals were mainly being slaughtered in different locations. However, the rising of the agricultural revolution led to industrialization and the outcome of modernization and technology growth resulted in the centralization of the slaughter institutions in urban locations (Sinclair 33). This resulted in the setting up of numerous meat processing firms leading to a monopolized sector in America. Sinclair focuses on analyzing the notorious processing system that dominated the market and was completely different from all the others that had existed before. The market only benefitted few people since capitalism only added more gains to the wealthy individuals that were running the Yards (Bloom 16). Labor exploitation was evident which was mainly contributed by the monopoly of the sector. The spread of this activities was extensive during the period and the focus of the production went on as the industry was already involved in the adaptation of innovative machines. This innovation did not only bring about efficiency but also worked to ensure the output was high while retaining the role of speed and production level to the management and not the employees (Sinclair 24). This same operation where the large and established companies are mainly involved in the production is still evident today and the implication on the surrounding has only become worse.

The development and dominance of the meat industry in the state were mainly attributed to increased demand across the country. The yards located in Chicago were involved in the provision of close to a one hundred percent nationally (Sinclair 19). Sinclair asserts throughout the book that the relationships amid the demand and production mainly encouraged the yard owners to exploit the populace in terms of labor. Since the production was mainly concentrated in a single location this gave them the power to control the market. The transportation aspect was an easy one since railway and road transport not only offered affordable but also quick and convenient services. The centralization of the production in Chicago offered intense advantages to the companies due to the existing monopolized industry, good infrastructure and the presence of cheap labor (Sinclair 26). This, therefore, meant that this was the only location where the farmers would sell their animals and his meat would only be accessed from the same place which created a favorable market.

Through the detailed description of the immigrant’s rough experiences, Sinclair demonstrates the oppressive times that the immigrants had in the period of industrial growth in the United States. Jurgis migrated to America to chase the American dream which offered them political liberation and the opportunity of experiencing quality living (Sinclair 21). He accounts that based on the tales they had, in order to live happily and gather wealth in America one never had to work as a soldier and yet decent salaries were guaranteed. This led to the obsession with the American dream which was mainly attributed to their monetary and partisan liberty (Bloom 6). However, they ignored the fact that being immigrants exposed them to exploitation and discrimination. Their dreams of abundant lives were demolished after finding out that the salaries being offered were nothing compared to the living cost in the country. Sinclair wished to create awareness about socialism and reform through the protagonist Jurgis who becomes an advocate. He pays attention to the debates regarding the damages that capitalism can generate in the industry setting (Bloom 6). The author does not fail to get the full attention of the readers via some gruesome experiences of immigrant families and uses the characters as the channel for sharing these experiences. Through the characters, Sinclair takes the experiences through an easy process from learning to supporting socialism.

Despite the fact that throughout the book the author uses the protagonist to account for the real situation in the meat sector, he quickly changes the focus to socialism purposively to share the ideologies of social reform to the readers (Fitzgerald 60). The main intention of the book is to share with the people about social issues that surround the meat industry. Sinclair focuses on the using the book to inform the public and policy developers about the threats that come from slaughterhouses mechanization (Fitzgerald 61). The author focuses on revealing the unsafe working surroundings, unequal treatments, oppression and unpaying salaries. Years later, present America is covered by the unending implications of high output and efficiency determined industries that account less about humanity. The book played an essential part in unveiling the situation which had been hidden from the public for the longest period without being noticed. This created more open opportunities for debates and policies implementations to control monopoly control.


Undoubtedly, The Jungle is one of the most valuable books in the American history. Sinclair’s main intention for writing the book is to advocate for fair employees treatment, healthy working environment, and desirable wages. This all accounts for the notion of social reform in which he wished to address some of the most pressing issues in the society. Apart from the fact that, the author specifically wished to create awareness among the public as well as encourage policymakers to be mindful of the wellness of the public he does a good job in awareness creation. The book is valuable on the ground that it offers immeasurable details that regard the American history and the struggles experienced by immigrants and industrial laborers in the past. Similar to the situation analyzed in the book, the industry is today controlled by some powerful individuals since the market is a monopoly and highly depends on immigrant labor similar to the past. Since the 20th century, the book is still a relevant and reliable instrument that fully informs the readers regarding the complexity of the food sector and the possible oppression of both animals and people. Today, due to technology the public has fully been diverted from the production business and all the ethical issues regarding food production will in most cases not be noticed. IT cannot be denied that the book is used as a guide to policymakers and the public to fight for a fair food industry that offers civilized treatment to laborers and animals.



Work Cited

Bloom, Harold, and Blake Hobby, Eds. The American Dream. Infobase Publishing, 2009.

Fitzgerald, Amy J. "A social history of the slaughterhouse: From inception to contemporary implications." Human Ecology Review (2010): 58-69.

Sachs, Benjamin R. "Consumerism and information privacy: How Upton Sinclair can again save us from ourselves." Virginia Law Review (2009): 205-252.

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle :( 1906). Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.




2020 Words  7 Pages

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