Capitalism Exposed In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

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Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”, was published in 1906 to shed light on the harsh realities faced by the working class in America during the 20th century. The novel depicts themes of the grueling immigrant experience and the evils of capitalism. Sinclair uses these themes to inform readers of the struggle and harshness of life during this time and to represent the need for labor rights.

The story begins by introducing the main character, Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant. Poverished and indebt due to the passing of his father-in-law, Jurgis moves to America in pursuit of the American dream. Jurgis begins work at a meat packing to lift his family out of poverty, but is met with the harsh realities of being an immigrant. He is treated as a commodity that can be easily replaced. Lured by the …show more content…

He witnesses long working hours at an average of 59 hours per week at an average hourly wage of 21.7 cents. In addition, he witnesses the unsanitary environmental conditions and practices performed in the industry, such as diseases, and meat being butchered and mixed until the rest of the meat is cured. Sinclair writes, “It was the great packing houses that were ruining the stockyards; they were driving the independents to the wall” (Sinclair, 1992, p. 120). He demonstrates how large companies manipulate the markets and how workers are treated with contempt and forced to take on dangerous working conditions. Under the monopolistic control of the market, meatpacking corporations disregard the working conditions, human rights of their employees, and sanitation of their factory productions. Sinclair exposes the corruption and the exploitive nature of the capitalist system, using Jurgis’ experience in the meatpacking industry as a testament to the struggles of immigrants during this time to serve as an important reminder of the importance of protecting the rights of

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