April 13, 2013
Book Review of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair, and it first appeared in a Socialist newspaper. It has become a classic not only for the heart-rending story in the pages, but because of deeper social and political commentary within it. It tells a sad story of the harsh realities that awaited many immigrants as they came over to America in the early 1900’s. It is not known how much of this is based on truth, and how much was for an entertaining aspect or to hook the reader. At the time of the story America was blooming and industrializing. It was becoming the talk of the world, and many foreigners were coming over with the hopes of freedom and prosperity. But many came with false hope sparked by a family member or friend who was lucky and became wealthy.
The main character of this book is Jurgis Rudkis, a Lithuanian, and takes place during his wedding feast after his marriage to Ona Lukeszaite. They had decided to go to America to start their new lives with a few members of their family: Marija Berczynskas, Ona’s cousin, Jonas, the brother of Ona’s stepmother, Teta Elzbieta, Onas stepmother, a few of her children, and Jurgis father, Dede Antanas. Everyone has a very optimistic attitude in the beginning, and they are all able to find jobs fairly easily, though the jobs come with low wages and harsh work conditions. The family decides to make an investment in a house, and they pool all their money together to buy a shabby house. Unfortunately, the contract was full of hidden fees, and they find the payments quite hard to make.
Jurgis had expected to be able to support the family, but soon the children and Ona are working as well. Dede Antanas quickly dies because of the deplorable working conditions. Bad goes to worse, and soon Jurgis gets hurt on the job because of the hazardous working conditions. He receives no immediate...