The Role Of A Social Hero In The Jungle By Upton Sinclair

1381 Words6 Pages
What does it mean to be a social hero? “To be a hero is means you step across the line and are willing to make a sacrifice, so heroes always are making a sacrifice. Heroes always take a risk. Heroes always are deviant. Heroes always doing something that most people don't and we want to change” (Philip Zimbardo). Most people considered to be heroes are exactly what Zimbardo describes; a strong willed person who goes against ordinary ideals and fights the system even if it means getting your hands dirty. Upton Sinclair was one of these types of people who did not believe in the injustice that was given to the common folk. Therefore he went undercover to expose the truth behind the closed doors of the meat packing industry, revealing to the public…show more content…
In this way The Jungle had an authentic feel to it, as Denby explains, “Sinclair built his narrative around a family of immigrant Lithuanians who settle in the stockyard area known as Packingtown. They have few illusions about wealth; they expect a little more than employment and freedom from tsarist corruption” (Denby 10). As most people who come to the United States, the family in this story was in search for the American dream. Little were they to find out it was going to be everything but a dream for them. Coming in with little to nothing, like most of the workers in poverty, they were abused and taken advantage of. In The Jungle, Upton Sinclair lets the book gives the reader a glimpse of what he (and Jurgis, the main character in The Jungle) witnessed, as Sinclair wrote, "Jurgis saw men in the pickling room with skin diseases. Men who used knives on the sped-up assembly lines frequently lost fingers. Men who hauled 100-pound hunks of meat crippled their backs. Workers with tuberculosis coughed constantly and spit blood on the floor. Right next to where the meat was processed" (162 Sinclair). Any excerpt from The Jungle can leave the reader with disgust! It was precisely this emotion, which attracted the audience. Furthermore this book was not far from the truth as Denby…show more content…
The Jungle became a bestseller, infamous for its gruesome nature. Hevrdejs, a member of the Chicago Tribune, highlights the main points of this book by saying, “Sinclair's powerful, colorful (and often unsettling) images of immigrant life, the unsanitary (to put it lightly) Chicago stockyards, the political corruption and vicious labor battles struck hard" (Hevrdejs 2). Unlike Hevrdejs the majority of people at the time would be too disgusted with the food they consume to realize the actual meaning behind The Jungle. It was heartbreaking for Sinclair when he became aware of the direction the readers were going. Costly expresses Sinclair’s emotions stating, “Sinclair was dismayed, however, when the public reacted with outrage about the filthy and falsely labeled meat but ignored the plight of the workers. Meat sales dropped sharply. "I aimed at the public's heart," Sinclair said, "and by accident, I hit it in the stomach" (33 Costly). It is perhaps too difficult to get the right reaction when Sinclair’s most notable moments were those that caused (another word for disgust). He had such high hopes that The Jungle would enlighten readers to feel sympathy towards the workers and the harsh…they faced. As Cohen explains, “Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” as a labor exposé. He hoped that the book would lead to improvements for the people to
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