An Analysis of “The Jungle”
“The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, is a story that unearths the various issues in a Capitalist Society of America, during the early years of the twentieth century. Sinclair depicts the life of the immigrants, entering into the United States with dreams to become rich, who get trapped in the vicious clutches of poverty, struggle, hazardous working conditions and severe turmoil, only to attain survival. Through the title, “The Jungle”, Sinclair is trying to depict the picture of immigrants, of low stature, fighting with each other, in the jungle where it is all about survival; survival of the fittest! The most important aspect of the story is ‘Socialism’. In the Capitalist world, where rich get richer and poor get poorer, Sinclair tries to façade, Socialism as the solution to all these problems.
Through the story, The Jungle, Sinclair tries to expose the poor quality of environment provided to the employees working in a meat factory in Chicago, where the working conditions are strenuous and horrible with meager pay and overtimes. He shows that corruption is spread at all levels of the society, high and low. He displays how bad their lives can be, by throwing the protagonist into very grueling situations, where in, even his pregnant wife has to work, so that they can earn their daily bread and butter. “And, for this, at the end of the week, he will carry home three dollars to his family, being his pay at the rate of five cents per hour-just about his proper share of the million and three quarters of children who are now engaged in earning their livings in the United States” (85) This quote shows the meager pay that is given to the workers at the meat factory, which can barely suffice their day to day needs. He throws lights on existing Capitalist community, where some of the giant companies are advantaging out of the immigrants, who would go about any extent to survive in the land of dreams and hopes. In a Capitalist world, Sinclair tries to project Socialism as a better option. He talks on various aspects of Socialist society throughout the story, to portray better living conditions for the lower classes of people, struggling hard for survival. Socialism is a revolution, it is a united effort placed by various individuals coming together for the cause of equality and egalitarianism. “And we shall organize them for the victory! We shall bear down the opposition, we shall sweep it before us-and Chicago will be ours! Chicago will be ours! CHICAGO WILL BE OURS!” (413) With the ending statement, Sinclair portrays the idea of Socialism as the means to achieve victory over poverty, hunger, corruption and other problems faced by the lower class of people and displays hope for all the problems dwelling in the society.
Sinclair mainly points out the flaws in the existing system of a Capitalist Community in the early twentieth century where in the poor immigrants were battered for life. The issue he points out in the story is how situations can be changed when people come together in brotherhood and form a society that cultivates for the equal growth of all individuals. This society, he claims, can dwell with the ideals of Socialism replacing Capitalism, where in everybody will receive benefit with fair trade practices. He comes up with Socialism as an answer to gain equality in the society, where all can nurture together, for the benefit of the society as a whole.
Sinclair, Upton The Jungle Plain Label Books, 1906