The American Dream In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

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In The Jungle, Upton Sinclair recounted one immigrant family’s failure to live the American Dream. Jurgis Rudkus and Ona Lukoszaite immigrated to Chicago from Lithuania in hopes of beginning a new and better life together. They “had dreamed of freedom; of a chance to look about them and learn something; to be decent and clean, to see their child grow up to be strong” (Sinclair 143). In actuality, the novel highlighted the difficulties they faced living in filth while struggling to rise up in a grueling America. Upton Sinclair, a muckraker, wrote the The Jungle to highlight the poor working conditions in the country’s meatpacking industry. Truthfully, Sinclair illustrated how capitalism destroyed one family’s American Dream, chronicled …show more content…
Upton Sinclair took on a journalistic approach to describe the unsanitary stockyards in Packingtown. He explained that the meat companies were selling tainted meat containing leftover bits of slaughtered animals and labeling the cans “deviled ham” or “potted ham.” Sinclair recalled that “meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one” (Sinclair 141). Workers also contracted strange diseases from the horrifying conditions they had to live and labor in. He noted that when an animal was butchered it would “splash foul-smelling stuff into [one’s] face” and further recounted the “‘embalmed beef’ had killed several times as many United States soldiers as all the bullets of the Spaniards” (Sinclair 102). Vivid descriptions of the cattle suffering in the slaughterhouses allowed Sinclair to foreshadow the doom of Jurgis’ family. When a steer broke loose there were “time[s] of peril on the killing beds … then there would be a yell of warning—the men would drop everything and dash for the nearest pillar, slipping here and there on the floor, and tumbling over each other” (Sinclair 121). It was an incident such as this that caused Jurgis to sprain his ankle and spend nearly three months in bed unable to work. Hoping for sympathy, Sinclair described how “a man had fallen into one of the …show more content…
Ona’s boss, Phil Connor, intimated and seduced her. His connections with the politician Mike Scully allowed him to get away with these brazen unlawful acts. Jurgis “made his discovery of the meaning of ‘pull’” when Connor used his political influence to keep Jurgis out of a job (Sinclair 263). Coincidentally, a desperate Jurgis took a job manipulating the political system in order to assure power for Mike Scully and other politicians that ran the city of Chicago. “Socialists were the enemies of American institutions” that needed to be destroyed through buying votes (Sinclair 268). However, it was socialism that gave the downtrodden Jurgis who has lost his wife and family hope. Jurgis “had been torn out of the jaws of destruction, he had been delivered from the thraldom of despair; the whole world had been changed for him—he was free, he was free” (Sinclair 319). Jurgis heard from Comrade Ostrinski how a “class conscious political organization of the wage-earners” was necessary (Sinclair 347). Jurgis now understood the greedy corruption of the Chicago Beef Trust and filled himself with the hopes and dreams of a socialist society. The story of The Jungle awakened Jurgis to the evils of a corrupt American

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