Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is the tail of an immigrant named Jurgis Rudkus, and his family. Jurgis moved to the United States during the Industrial Revolution. He and his family were not ready for what awaited them in their new homeland. Throughout the book, Jurgis faces many hardships that he is not able to overcome. After moving to America, he realizes that he cannot earn enough to support his entire family. Despite his work ethic to succeed, he fails at providing his family the life that they were in search of. Soon his wife and the rest of his family are working to survive. He soon develops the mentality that hard work is not rewarded, but corruption is the way to prevail.
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Soon Jurgis injures his foot on the job and is forced to stay at home and let it heal. He is not able to work for a few months and upon his return to work he finds that he has been replaced by another worker. He was desperate for money so he took a job at a local glue factory. His wife is pregnant and the family is working themselves to try to stay in tact. Things start to go downhill when Jurgis turns to drinking and soon after he finds his wife has been forced to sleep with her boss. In order to seek revenge he attacks the man and is arrested. While in jail he meets a man by the name of Jack Duane who introduces him to the life of crime. Jurgis returns home from jail to find out everyone has lost their jobs. Soon Ona is to have her baby, but because they had no money to pay for the proper care, she and the baby die in labor. His son drowns and the family is far from being what the once were. Jurgis soon becomes a beggar on the streets.
After receiving one hundred dollars from Freddie Jones, the son of rich Old Man Jones, he goes into a bar to get change and gets into another altercation and is arrested once again. After getting out of jail he returns back the crooked life. Once out of jail he gets into another fight with Conner, the man who had sex with his wife. He is arrested but this time he jumps bail. Once out of jail he is looking for food and shelter and stumbles upon a socialist meeting. He learns at the meeting what the working man can do to improve society. The story ends with Jurgis finding a job at a hotel and reuniting with his daughter.
Throughout the course of the novel, Sinclair sets fourth a variety of themes. One major theme is the competition for material objects. When Sinclair describes the thousands of people waiting to get a chance at getting employment, he shows the nature of the packing yards. He shows that people have little chance of getting employment, or even surviving in Chicago. This type of lifestyle is something that Sinclair wants to do away with, and replace in with socialism. With socialism, he feels, the big business would be obsolete. So during the course of this novel, Sinclair uses this theme to illustrate his point.
Another major theme is converting the businesses to a democracy. This was the main theme throughout the second half of the book. Once this concept was brought up, the book changed away from being a depressing novel and gave the reader some hope to seeing a happy ending in the book. It is evident that Sinclair wants the reader to understand why democracy is the best form of the governmental system.
One minor theme is that the people at the bottom of the social ladder are forced to do what there master demands of them. This is evident many times in the novel, such as when Ona is forced to have sex with her boss, Conner. By this action, Sinclair shows how powerful the politicians and business leaders actually are.
In conclusion, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair was written to show the goodness of socialism and the evils of capitalism. It was also written to show the graphic nature of the packing yards in Chicago. Although the book begins along the depressing path as if there is no hope for Jurgis, the ending leaves him back on top of his life again with socialism in control.
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