Analysis Of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

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he early twentieth century was a wild, wild time – though we can 't immediately think of a time in American history that has been calm. Still, even by rowdy American standards, the first few years of the last century were crazy. Upton Sinclair was lucky enough to ride this wave of national dissatisfaction with the status quo straight to literary success. His novel The Jungle, an exposé of the meatpacking industry, became an enormous bestseller translated into seventeen languages within weeks of its publication in 1906. But while The Jungle has long been associated with food production (and its disgustingness), the book is actually a much broader critique of early twentieth-century business and labor practices in the rapidly growing cities of the United States.

By the time The Jungle was published at the turn of the century, the massive flow of poorer European immigrants into the United States over the previous half-century had changed the demographics of American cities. Many of these immigrants lived in overcrowded, run-down tenement buildings with no access to clean water or proper sewage systems (source). Having come to America looking for work opportunities, the immigrants provided a cheap source of labor for American factories and businesses. As Sinclair, a self-proclaimed socialist, saw it, millionaire businessmen were building up huge fortunes by exploiting their immigrant workers.

One major lightning rod for struggles between rich and poor was the rapidly expanding
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