Social Activism And Political Reform In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

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The 1890s to the 1920s witnessed the emergence and widespread of the Progressive Era filled with social activism and political reform which were supported by people of all classes, especially women and manual laborers, to fight against corruption across the United States. In this effort, many journalists and writers known as muckrakers worked their best to expose the social problems, crave effective solutions, and urge the public to take action. During this era, they identify numerous issues hidden beneath society. Among them, a well-known muckraker novelist, Upton Sinclair published The Jungle in 1905, which significantly affect the meat industry with the implementation of the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. …show more content…

Every crisis Jurgis’s family encountered was primarily caused by money which the factory owner, the real estate, the doctor, and even the bartender fed on by taking advantage of the poor people. In the freezing winter, Jurgis himself lose his strength and became a wounded animal physically and mentally. Indeed, many times in the novel, Sinclair symbolized a human with a wounded animal, “…plunging like a wounded buffalo, puffing and snorting in rage” (75), “…helpless as a wounded animal, target of unseen enemies” (92), “…like a wounded animal in the forest; …forced to compete with his enemies upon the unequal term” (157). The same fate went with every other member of the family, especially Ona, she was always described as fragile as hunted prey as such she usually found herself in a position she struggles to help her family. However, she was full of love and support for her husband; it was not exaggerated to say she was the mental healing for Jurgis and a treasure that he swore to protect. However, “…nobody rose in Packingtown by doing good work…they would “speed him up” till they had worn him out…” (40), Jurgis face the same fate as the people he saw when first arrived in Chicago, being used and thrown away the same way the factory butchered the hog, made use of each ounce, and disposed of the remaining. Throughout …show more content…

A clear example of it was when Jurgis attacked Conner for raping his wife. He simply lost control of his action, he ran off in his rampage, and he bit off the flesh of the cheek of his wife’s boss, wild just like an animal. After his wife’s death, Jurgis lost hope in his life, the hope that used to carry him throughout his hard work, “he saw himself standing apart and watching all the world fade away from him—a world of shadows, of fickle dreams” (131). He accepted the cruel truth and pour all of his pockets into alcohol, which was not what he needed, but what he chose to forget everything else. Moreover, his morality was descending and his soul was shattered; as a result, he joined the criminal gang, because he realized if he wanted to survive in this corrupted system, he must be a part of it. The same thought must have happened to Marija, Ona’s cousin. Despite her hard work and efforts, she was defeated by the capitalist system and at the end of the novel she was addicted to drugs and became a prostitute. Marija’s surrender marked last her method to survive and support the family that was already falling apart. The deaths of other members of the family also consolidate Marija’s decision, especially Ona’s, as Marija believed Ona could have been alive and saved the family from starvation from being a prostitute. Sinclair has illustrated how Capitalism pushed

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