Socialism In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

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In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, Jurgis and his family attempt to survive in a malicious society. In this jungle of a town, rotten meat is being packaged in order to save money. Throughout the novel, the immigrants are faced with greedy capitalists who take advantage of the family’s ignorance and naivety in order to make money. The symbols of corruption, a jungle-like setting, and the tension between family and a work-based lifestyle transparently contribute to the unifying theme of anti-capitalism. In other words, this book is not art; this book is propaganda.
Corruption runs rampant in Packingtown, the town where Jurgis and his newly immigrated family work in the meatpacking industry. The Jungle’s heavy-handed symbolism alludes to the theme of corruption. For example, the animals represent the workers themselves; while the workers are the cattle, “each in a separate pen … leaving them with no room to turn around,” the wealthy capitalists are the “‘knockers,’ … watching for a chance to deal a blow” (Sinclair, 39). In other words, the capitalists are taking the workers lives
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However, The Jungle’s lack of ambiguity ruins the text as an artistic work. The Jungle functions not as art but as a fictional documentary. Without ambiguity, The Jungle fails as an artistic work. Edward Clark Marsh stated that “[Jurgis’s] experiences are too palpably made in order to signify anything one way or another” (Marsh, 486). In other words, The Jungle is too obvious to be art. Another reason The Jungle fails as an artistic work is because “Sinclair couldn’t invest his character with a certain human particularity.” The characters are too perfectly purposed. They are all written for a particular purpose and serve only that purpose. Therefore, although all symbols lead to an anti-capitalistic interpretation of The Jungle, it fails as an artistic work due to its flat characters and lack of
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