Upton Sinclair’sThe Jungle follows immigrants in the early 1900’s who come to question “American Dream.”
Upton Sinclair’s seminal work The Jungle follows the Lithuanian family of Jurgis Rudkus after they immigrate to Chicago in the early 1900’s. They soon realize the “American Dream” is no dream at all, as their family is torn apart by horrific working conditions, disease, moral degeneracy, and death. Only to survive, the family must sell their bodies to the lowest bidder, whether at a grossly unsanitary meatpacking plant or with prostitution. Soon, even the youngest children become laborers. As his loved ones succumb to disease and misery, Jurgis turns to crime and becomes the muscle for politicians, criminals, and corporations alike. Soon, this too leaves him destitute. With nowhere to go, he happens upon a political rally for a new movement, Socialism. Controversial and rousing, The Jungle caused an uproar over the unsanitary conditions in meatpacking facilities, resulting in a flurry of legislation. Although the public was less interested in labor rights or Sinclair’s socialism, the novel cemented Upton Sinclair as one of the premier journalists of his day.
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