Oppression in the Jungle and the Grapes of Wrath

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In The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, and The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, the characters are forced with economic, social, and political problems that they must cope with throughout the story. Both books are similar in that they emphasize that in this country, one simply cannot win unless they play by nature's rules.

The economic problems of both stories were great. Jurgis (The Jungle) wishes to go to America to get rich. Buying a house stresses the whole idea of animals to have something that is theirs. This is also shown with the Joads. They go to California in search of money and something of their own as well. Both, however, are faced with strong economic problems. For Jurgis, it is the poor managing and working conditions of Packingtown. Due to their overproduction in the summer, they are forced to shut down in the winter making the workers unemployed when they need financial support the most. There was also no set wages. They could pay them as little or as much as they wanted to. The Joads had a very similar situation that is complicated by the Great Depression. People took advantage of the fact that they were desperate for work by paying them pocket change.

Socially, there is one thing that both of them are looking for; that is acceptance. No matter where they went, they were discriminated against. In Chicago, Jurgis and his "people" are preyed upon by the higher classes because they are new to this country. They do not have the "know all" that the other Americans have. For this reason, the disreputable executives of Packingtown use them to better themselves. For example, Phil Connor uses poor Ona for his own sexual pleasure. Fair… I think not.

Politics are a great part of both novels, but specifically plague The Jungle. Each novel emphasizes that no matter how hard you try you can't succeed unless you are unjust. It is known that both Steinbeck and Sinclair were Socialists. Their writings strongly emphasize this in...
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