Summary Of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

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The Jungle by Upton Sinclair follows the life of Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus and his family living in Chicago. Jurgis finds work at Brown's slaughterhouse and there he endures harsh working conditions as well as his family members. Ultimately he and family suffer many tragedies related to their work environments. While this book is a work of fiction it mirrors real life. The Jungle was published in 1906 during the Gilded Age. The book was meant to show the deplorable working conditions that factory workers faced during this time, but instead the readers focused on the unsanitary conditions of the meat packing plants, which led to the creation of the FDA. Sinclair (1906) states “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit the …show more content…

Sinclair (1906) reveals that there were pacemakers that “speed up the gang” and “if any man could not keep up with the pace, there were hundreds outside begging to try” (p. 47). Sinclair (1906) also states that union members wanted to “put a stop to the habit of ‘speeding up’; they were trying their best to force a lessening of the pace, for there were some, they said, who could not keep up with it, whom it was killing” (p. 48). According to Norton et al. (2008) “The slightest mistake on high-speed machinery could be serious, if not fatal, and accidents occurred often, killing hundreds of thousands each year” (p. 540). There was so much pressure to keep their jobs that workers would comply to working the hazardous machines. Even the best worker is prone to make mistakes, but for the workers operating these machines making a mistake was disastrous. This was the price the workers had to pay to make a living, they had to gamble their own life in order to make low wages that could not even support their own …show more content…

Perry and Smith (2006) state that “there was no safety oversight in factories and no workers’ compensation or accident insurance” (p. 188). The Jungle does an excellent job at exposing just how unsafe the workplace really was. Sinclair (1906) notes that the “men who worked in the cooking rooms , in the midst of steam and sickening odors, by artificial light; in these rooms the germs of tuberculosis might live for two years, but the supply was renewed every hour” and that the men “who worked in tank rooms full of steam, and in some of which there were open vats near the level of the floor, their particular was that they fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough of them left to be worth exhibiting” (p. 82). With no safety measures or oversight taken to protect the workers from potentially serious injuries, the workers were left up to fate as to whether or not they got mangled or not. Having to work in an environment where someone could easily get tuberculosis is deadly and back then before the vaccine, getting tuberculosis was a death sentence. Also, working near open vats were a worker could easily fall in and die is no place for someone to work, but for the workers during the time this was the only

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