The Jungle Author:Sinclair, Upton Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" is one of the handful of books throughout all of history, perhaps, that have encapsulated the crying voices of the oppressed. While many readers and politicians at the time of its publication (and since) have focused on the intolerable conditions in which American food products were produced, the major thrust in "Th... more »e Jungle" is not in regards to the ill-treatment of our food; it is in regards to the ill-treatment of our workers.
The repeated sufferings of Jurgis and his family are akin to an overwhelming symphony of sorrowful songs. As his family is driven deeper into debt, his body worn down, and his life's zeal and love slowly strangled, Jurgis' desperation becomes palpable, and if you can't sympathize with his feelings at the loss of his family's home--a structure they worked so hard for--check your pulse. You might be dead.
The book contains some of the most horrific depictions in all of literature, including a mercifully oblique reference to a child's death by being eaten alive by rats. Although the novel focuses on Jurgis primarily, it is the children--the laboring little people--who elicit the most sympathy in this reader's view. Struggling to support their family, escaping extremely dangerous situations (one little girl is nearly dragged into an alley and raped), sleeping on the street, and begging desperately for food--the appalling conditions being visited upon children as described in "The Jungle" still have the power to arouse strong anger and outrage, over a century after its initial publication.
One of the greatest social novels ever written, "The Jungle" is a moving tribute to the millions of immigrants who did come here legally, who did find jobs, who were ready to work for their slice of the American Dream, and who survived (barely) despite being swindled, stolen from, lied to, oppressed, turned out, ignored, and abused, almost from the very first step they took into the United States. The recent punditry over immigration that has dominated the national debate should serve as a reminder of the timelessness exhibited in Upton Sinclair's seminal masterpiece.« less