Socialism in “The Jungle”
By Tyler Dobson
Sinclair’s The Jungle is a novel that tends to advocate for socialism as a remedy for the evils of capitalism that has dominated a society. Upton Sinclair’s piece was written in 1906, at a time when many European immigrants had migrated to the United States with the hope of becoming prosperous in their lives. However, their expectations were not met as some of them ended up being unemployed and those who managed to get jobs like Jurgis Rudkus in meat packing industry suffered horrendous working conditions. The word jungle denotes the action of dog-eat-dog competition explaining the way workers are exploited through corruption and poor working conditions. In order to inform the reader about the ugly effects of capitalism, Sinclair bases his novel in this point to indicate how the rich people took the traits of animals by becoming inhuman and mistreat their workers in the capitalistic society. The workers were dehumanized and exposed to torture by working for long duration and given low wages as a form of appreciation. The use of this animalistic connotation has helped Sinclair to successfully address the need for socialist system. This is aimed at promoting equality and good working condition at workplaces. Socialism forms the largest section in which The Jungle is tailored. It is defined as the economic system in which the workers own the entire industry instead of the few rich entrepreneurs. Workers are paid well for their work and relate well with each other. Socialism is advocated for in order to replace capitalism. On the other hand, capitalism refers to an economic system where the producers and consumers are able to source money and spend it through any means they choose. As a matter of fact, Sinclair wins the attention of many readers by illustrating in details the effects of capitalism. He begins by informing the reader about the Lithuanian immigrants with peasant backgrounds who moved to America and Chicago in particular. Upton Sinclair refers to Chicago as “a jungle-like city where men’s souls and women’s bodies were sold in the market place and human beings fought each other like wolves in a pit and men used as fuel in a humanity festering in corruption.”(Pg 65) Sinclair narrows down to the family of Jurgis Rudkus in order to describe the situation of these migrants who were lucky to secure employment. The family arrived during the time of capitalism economic system which undermined their cultural and moral values. They had come with an intention of improving their living standards by earning good wages and salaries in the factories that advertised quite a number of jobs. However, the capitalism economic system denies them an opportunity to advance and enjoy their lives. Jurgis is exposed to poor working conditions where he had to starve, work for long duration and earn a little wage to keep his family. He says he will “work Harder.”(pg 17).This depicts the situation in which most of the foreign workers had to struggle in the capitalistic system. Therefore, Sinclair persuades the reader that this man could only be free if reforms were done by introducing socialism. In order to promote equality and good lives among the working foreigners, socialist parties and movements were started. Many workers were encouraged to join these movements to facilitate the implementation process of socialism. Jurgis is fortunate enough to get a job in a meat packing industry as a cleaner which he hopes will change his living status. He says, “Tomorrow, I will go there and get a job and then we can have a place of our own.”(Pg 31)The workplace is very dirty but he preserves for him to get money. After some time, Jurgis is advised by some other workers to join the union to bar the pacemakers from speeding up the gang. He refuses to comply and consider them as lazy. His poverty state makes him to endure even as some people are falling sick and dying. It is noted that huge crowds of...
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