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Essay/Term paper: The jungle

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Book Reports

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This book

was fact. Upton Sinclair visited Chicago in November 1904 to do

research for the book. Sinclair lived in a neighborhood called

Packingtown for seven weeks. While in Packingtown, Sinclair

interviewed workers, lawyers, doctors, saloonkeepers, and social workers.

The book deals with the greed and ruthless competition that turned

America into a brutal country, which Sinclair referred to as a "jungle."

The Jungle also tells how those at the bottom of the economic ladder, who

were wage-earners and their families, are at a great disadvantage in the

capitalist country. The wage-earners are slaves to the sudden wishes of

their masters, who are the capitalists who own and run private


The Jungle starts with the marriage of Ona Lukoszaite and Jurgis

Rudkus in America, which was organized by Ona's cousin Marija. The

novel then flashes back to their lives in a rural Lithuanian town, and

how their families, Ona's stepmother Elzbieta, and her five children,

Jurgis' father, and four other adults, thought that America would be such

a great place to live in and decided to move to America. The day after

the wedding is over, everyone was back to work and Jurgis and Ona's

married life was cheerless. The pressures of work, poverty and illness

stifles the families spirits and then Dede Antanas, Jurgis' dad, dies.

After Jurgis gives his father an inexpensive funeral, he decides to join

the Union and begins to learn English and gets an unfriendly opinion of

democracy. Jurgis begins to see how the packers operate, they sell spoiled

or contaminated meat without remorse. Workers are exposed to awful

occupational diseases without protection. Then, Ona give's birth to a

baby boy. The families third winter in America starts with Jurgis

getting injured on the job and Jonas, Elzbieta's brother, disappearing,

leaving the families income to decrease by one third. When Jurgis

recovers and goes to get his job back, he finds it gone and must find

another job. He finds a job at Durham's Fertilizer Plant. Because of the

smell of the plant, Jurgis starts to drink. He then finds out that Ona is

pregnant again, and he isn't the father. Ona's boss, Phil Connor,

threatened to fire everyone in her family if she did not submit herself to

him. Jurgis nearly kills Connor when he finds out and is sent to jail.

When Jurgis is let out of jail, he finds his family evicted from the

house they tried so hard to keep, and back to the lodging house where the

family was when they first arrived. Upon finding the family, Ona is

giving birth, and Jurgis persuades a midwife to help, to no benefit, and

Ona and the baby die. Jurgis wants to leave, but because of his son,

Antanas, Jurgis stays and gets a job then is laid off, so Jurgis gets a job at

a steel plant, then his son accidentally drowns. Jurgis then becomes a

runaway. After an on the job injury lands Jurgis in the hospital, he joins

the army of unemployed men hunting for work. During a high

unemployment time in January 1904, Jurgis starts begging and meets the

drunken son of a meat packing family and goes home with him. When he

leaves the family, he is full and has a $100 bill. When a bartender cheats

Jurgis out of the money, he attacks him and is arrested and jailed. Jurgis

then goes to the stockyards as an undercover worker of the Democratic

boss. Jurgis promotes the boss's choice for representative, the Republican

candidate. Jurgis then gets a foreman job and takes bribes from his men

and beats up strikers for the packers. A second attack on Phil Connor

lands Jurgis in jail again. Jurgis then posts bail and flees, going back to

begging. He meets an old friend who gives him Marija's address. He

finds her and discovers she is a prostitute and drug addict. Then Jurgis

walks in a political rally to keep warm. An emotional public speaker

converts Jurgis to socialism and his life takes a new turn; he's given a

new job as a porter in a hotel owned by a socialist. The novel ends on

election night in 1904, where Jurgis learns his party has made a strong


Upton Sinclair is trying to tell the readers of The Jungle how bad it

was for wage-earners in the early 1900's. Because workers were often

ignorant of their own best interests, they would unknowingly take steps

to defeat them. Workers would back the wrong candidates, manufacture

goods that might harm them, and break strikes that could benefit them.

Jurgis beat up the strikers for the packers, and he was most likely

harming himself because the strikers were striking for more sanitary


Industrial Capitalism is an efficient, impersonal "slaughtering

machine," that sacrificed its workers. Businesses took no responsibility

for their workers. They used up the strong and young and discarded the

weak and old. If workers got too old or were unable to work hard or fast

enough, the companies fired them and replaced them with the young,

fast, and strong workers, until they were to old and weak to work. This

cycle continued with the young workers becoming old, and being

replaced with young workers.

I found it extremely hard to pick a couple of characters that I liked

because I would like them in the beginning, but then later on in the novel,

they would do something that made them not be one of my favorite

characters. I could only find one character that I really liked, and the

one character that I particularly liked was Elzbieta Lukoszaite, Ona's

beloved stepmother. I like Elzbieta because she was a link between the

Old World and the New World throughout the novel. She insisted on a

traditional wedding for Ona and a proper funeral for her son

Kristoforas, when he died. She begged for money for a funeral march

when Ona died and persuaded Jurgis to stay in America for his son's

sake. She was predictable and poised. Although you find out all of these

things about her, you don't really get to know her in the story. At the

end, though sick and being supported largely by Marija's prostitution,

she attended Socialist meetings with Jurgis; yet they meant nothing to

her; she planned her meals during the speeches. Elzbieta always did

things for others, even if they didn't interest her. She also wanted to

properly honor her family members that had died and she didn't let

others forget about the Old World.

One character that I didn't like was Freddie Jones, son of the

wealthy meat packer, Old Man Jones. Freddie was out of town when he

found Jurgis begging. He tells Jurgis that they are in the same position.

"No money either," Freddie tells Jurgis. His father had left him with less

than two thousand dollars in his pocket, which is more than an unskilled

worker in Packingtown can make in five years. I do think that Upton

Sinclair used Freddie Jones to show the insensitivity of the rich to the

difficulty of the poor, because Freddie can't make the ingenious leap

required to understand Jurgis's poverty.

A moving moment in this novel to me was all of the tragedies that

happens to Jurgis. First off, shortly after Jurgis and Ona marry, Dede

Antanas, Jurgis's father, dies. Jurgis has the pressures of work, poverty,

and illness to worry about, plus to have a funeral for his father that

won't bankrupt the family. But don't forget how Jurgis is constantly

getting injured on the job, causing the family income to decrease every

time. Then when Ona gets pregnant again, and Jurgis finds out that the

baby isn't his, he is devastated, and then nearly kills Ona's boss and is put

in jail. When things are finally looking better for Jurgis when he is

released from jail, he finds Ona in labor, and then Ona and the baby die

due to complications. Jurgis wanted to leave Chicago, but stayed because

his son, Antanas, was there. He stayed and got a job with a maker of

farm equipment, and then is laid off but finds a job in at a steel plant.

Things are taking a slight turn for the better when Antanas accidentally

drowns in flood waters. Jurgis's whole life is full of tragedies with the

deaths of the people he loved and carried about, that is why I found his

tragedies to be the most meaningful to me.

I can honestly say that I would not have chosen to read The

Jungle. But once I started reading the novel, I really got into it. At some

points I couldn't put the book down, while at other points I could hardly

stand to read anymore. I thought that the book was good because it

showed how life was for immigrants that came to America in search of a

better life, but unfortunately, were misled and found America to be much

like the countries they came from. I also thought the book was good

because it showed how the people in America treated the immigrants,

the book didn't try to make anything less than what it really was, it

made it what it really was. For example, when Upton Sinclair was

stating the horrible conditions existing in meat factories, he didn't try to

make it better than it was, he used words to describe the actual

conditions. I would recommend this book to other people, because of it's

truthfulness in it's descriptions.


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