A Time for Struggle and Change Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, depicts the struggles of Lithuanian immigrants as they worked and lived in Chicago’s Packingtown at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The United States experienced an enormous social and political transformation; furthermore, the economy, factories, and transportation industry grew faster than anyone had ever seen. Immigrants and migrants were attracted to city life for its promise of employment and their chance at the American Dream. The poor working class had little to no rights, and they grappled with unfair business practices, unsafe working conditions, racism, Social Darwinism, class segregation, xenophobia, political corruption, strikes, starvation, poor housing,
Millions of Americans view “hard and laborious” work as mowing the lawn or going to an office job eight hours a day. Young teenagers regard these duties as “chores”, miserable and tedious tasks; however, most of these people are oblivious to the mistreatment and overworking the meat industry workers experience daily. Since the 20th century, these employees have been exploited and taken advantage of by the large corporations in the food industry. In the novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, revelations are made about the evil ways of the meat factories in the early 1900s. Although the working conditions have improved in several ways, today’s industry is not much better, and food investigators Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan expose the realities
Before the structured labor society that we live in today, America was a very different working world; one plagued with injustice and grievances from workers across the job sectors. Two organizations, the Knights of Labor and later the American Federation of Labor acted as activists for reform and demanded better standards for working, living, and life for workers. Their strategies and success in achieving their goals were as different as the organizations themselves.
Upton Sinclair, a well-known muckraker of the early 1900s, wrote a novel called The Jungle, which highlighted the negative effects of capitalism and the corruption of society at the time. Sinclair wrote the novel with his primary goal being to bring awareness to society’s corruption and to push forward the ideas of socialism. To accomplish this, a connection is established between the reader and the protagonist, Jurgis Rudkus, who struggles under a capitalist society. The antagonist is then presented as not one single character, but as the system of capitalism that oppresses workers like Jurgis and his family, as well as the economic structure of society that puts wealth and power into the hands of only a few individuals.
The opening phrase on ‘Labor’ in history.com reads like this : “The labor movement in the United States grew out of the need to protect the common interest of workers. For those in the industrial sector, organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable hours and safer working conditions. The labor movement led efforts to stop child labor, give health benefits and provide aid to workers who were injured or retired.”
“Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time” (Grace Abbott). The issue of child labor has been around for centuries. Its standing in our world has been irrevocably stained in our history and unfortunately, our present. Many great minds have assessed this horrific issue and its effect on our homes, societies, and ultimately, our world.
Profits for the farmers were getting smaller and smaller due to the increase in prices for the goods to be sold. These farmers believed in many different things- they believed in rules and regulations for the road (which included the fact that the government should control the railroad), lower tariffs, and that money should be based off of silver standard. For the industrial workers, their working conditions were not ideal. Each worker did not get paid nearly enough to support them and their families, even though they worked ten plus hour days, six days a week. Workers were not paid for sick days or injury.
“I aimed at the public’s heart and by accident I hit in the stomach” stated the international famous Upton Sinclair, after writing his most prominent novel, The Jungle. The word jungle is constantly associated with a wild environment full of undomesticated animals, but in this authentic novel, it refers to the unethical actions practiced during the gilded age. Sinclair’s main idea was to end all the unjust activities experienced during this time by writing and using the experience of his main character. Throughout the novel, the audience can perceive themes such as capitalism and socialism, historical events and symbolism.
An excerpt from Gilded Age tells us how companies are greedy and corrupted by charging hidden fees and finding a way not to pay their workers. It also shows how companies did not take contracts to their workers seriously. (Doc 2) If the Federal Government was more involved with how business men did their work; there wouldn’t have been so much deceitfulness toward the workers from the employers. The Federal Government could have put efforts into regulating pay for employees and making sure the companies stuck to their word about any benefits.
This provided better working hours and safe conditions for the factory workers. People argue that the factory owners sent thugs to interrupt labor unions and government did little to protect the laborers. However, when the Antitrusts Acts were passed, it stated that nothing contained in the Antitrust Laws shall be constructed to forbid the existence and operation of labor organizations (7). This proves that the Federal Government tried to intervene and help the laborers. Sooner or later, factory workers got what they wanted with the help of the reforms during the Progressive Era.
There was major gap between the rich and the poor which cause conflicts between social classes. The majority of the population were living in poverty, unemployment, and the increase in crimes. The labor leader, George E, McNeil says, “ the railroad president is a railroad king… He can discharge any employee without cause… he can withhold their lawful; wages…. In his rights hand he holds the government; in his left the people” (Doc. A).
Immigrant workers were limited of their freedom and constantly exploited due to the fact that they were working in hazardous working conditions, were living in deplorable conditions, and were being harassed under the intimidating power of corrupt politicians. Such miseries the immigrants had to face included the hazardous working conditions where they had to stay for long hours. There was no doubt that workers had either die or were injured as they worked in such environment. In Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the dangers of working conditions are emphasized through Jurgis’ incident at the meatpacking plant.
In early 1900, specifically, 1906, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair was written. This novel told the story of a Lithuanian immigrant who worked in a filthy Chicago meatpacking plant. It exposed the meatpacking industry by stating their vile practices not only towards their meat but their workers as well. This was a result of the combination of many immigrants in the United States to pursue a better life, and the fact that many big industries were looking for ways to maximize their profit.
However, the economic crises in 1837 collapsed the labor unions because of economic hard times, and with immigrants coming in surplus willing to work for cheap, regular people could not compete and thus had to work at the beckon of the factories. Labor unions worked when the economy was resilient, but when the economy was shocked, everyone was too afraid of demanding more when there were those willing to work for