The Jungle

This book
was fact. Upton Sinclair visited Chicago in November 1904 to do
research for the book. Sinclair lived in a neighborhood called
Packingtown for seven weeks. While in Packingtown, Sinclair
interviewed workers, lawyers, doctors, saloonkeepers, and social workers.
The book deals with the greed and ruthless competition that turned
America into a brutal country, which Sinclair referred to as a "jungle."
The Jungle also tells how those at the bottom of the economic ladder, who
were wage-earners and their families, are at a great disadvantage in the
capitalist country. The wage-earners are slaves to the sudden wishes of
their masters, who are the capitalists who own and run private
industries.
The Jungle starts with the marriage of Ona Lukoszaite and Jurgis
Rudkus in America, which was organized by Ona\'s cousin Marija. The
novel then flashes back to their lives in a rural Lithuanian town, and
how their families, Ona\'s stepmother Elzbieta, and her five children,
Jurgis\' father, and four other adults, thought that America would be such
a great place to live in and decided to move to America. The day after
the wedding is over, everyone was back to work and Jurgis and Ona\'s
married life was cheerless. The pressures of work, poverty and illness
stifles the families spirits and then Dede Antanas, Jurgis\' dad, dies.
After Jurgis gives his father an inexpensive funeral, he decides to join
the Union and begins to learn English and gets an unfriendly opinion of
democracy. Jurgis begins to see how the packers operate, they sell spoiled
or contaminated meat without remorse. Workers are exposed to awful
occupational diseases without protection. Then, Ona give\'s birth to a
baby boy. The families third winter in America starts with Jurgis
getting injured on the job and Jonas, Elzbieta\'s brother, disappearing,
leaving the families income to decrease by one third. When Jurgis
recovers and goes to get his job back, he finds it gone and must find
another job. He finds a job at Durham\'s Fertilizer Plant. Because of the
smell of the plant, Jurgis starts to drink. He then finds out that Ona is
pregnant again, and he isn\'t the father. Ona\'s boss, Phil Connor,
threatened to fire everyone in her family if she did not submit herself to
him. Jurgis nearly kills Connor when he finds out and is sent to jail.
When Jurgis is let out of jail, he finds his family evicted from the
house they tried so hard to keep, and back to the lodging house where the
family was when they first arrived. Upon finding the family, Ona is
giving birth, and Jurgis persuades a midwife to help, to no benefit, and
Ona and the baby die. Jurgis wants to leave, but because of his son,
Antanas, Jurgis stays and gets a job then is laid off, so Jurgis gets a job at
a steel plant, then his son accidentally drowns. Jurgis then becomes a
runaway. After an on the job injury lands Jurgis in the hospital, he joins
the army of unemployed men hunting for work. During a high
unemployment time in January 1904, Jurgis starts begging and meets the
drunken son of a meat packing family and goes home with him. When he
leaves the family, he is full and has a $100 bill. When a bartender cheats
Jurgis out of the money, he attacks him and is arrested and jailed. Jurgis
then goes to the stockyards as an undercover worker of the Democratic
boss. Jurgis promotes the boss\'s choice for representative, the Republican
candidate. Jurgis then gets a foreman job and takes bribes from his men
and beats up strikers for the packers. A second attack on Phil Connor
lands Jurgis in jail again. Jurgis then posts bail and flees, going back to
begging. He meets an old friend who gives him Marija\'s address. He
finds her and discovers she is a prostitute and drug addict. Then Jurgis
walks in a political rally to keep warm. An emotional public speaker
converts Jurgis to socialism and his life takes a new turn; he\'s given a
new job as a porter in a hotel owned by a socialist. The novel ends on
election night in 1904, where Jurgis learns his party has made a strong
showing.
Upton Sinclair is trying to tell the readers of The Jungle how bad it
was for wage-earners in the early 1900\'s. Because workers were often
ignorant of their own best interests, they would unknowingly take steps
to defeat them. Workers would back the wrong candidates, manufacture
goods that might harm them, and break strikes that