THE JUNGLE is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and
Upton Sinclair (1878–1968). Sinclair wrote the novel to
portray the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the
United States in
The book depicts working class poverty, the lack of social supports, harsh and unpleasant living and working conditions, and a hopelessness among many workers. These elements are contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption of people in power. A review by the writer Jack London called it "the Uncle Tom\'s Cabin of wage slavery."
Sinclair was considered a muckraker , or journalist who exposed
corruption in government and business. In 1904, Sinclair had spent
seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the
meatpacking plants of the
* 1 Plot summary * 2 Characters * 3 Publication history * 4 Uncensored edition * 5 Reception * 6 Federal response * 7 Adaptations * 8 See also * 9 Footnotes * 10 Further reading * 11 External links
The main character in the book is Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant trying to make ends meet in Chicago. The book begins with his and Ona's wedding feast. He and his family live near the stockyards and meatpacking district, where many immigrants work who do not know much English. He takes a job at Brown's slaughterhouse. Rudkus had thought the US would offer more freedom, but he finds working conditions harsh. He and his young wife struggle to survive. They fall deeply into debt and are prey to con men . Hoping to buy a house, they exhaust their savings on the down-payment for a sub-standard slum house, which they cannot afford. The family is eventually evicted after their money is taken.
Rudkus had expected to support his wife and other relatives, but eventually all—the women, children, and his sick father—seek work to survive. As the novel progresses, the jobs and means the family uses to stay alive slowly lead to their physical and moral decay. Accidents at work and other events lead the family closer to catastrophe. Rudkus' father dies as a direct result from the unsafe work conditions in the meat packing plant. One of the children, Kristoforas, dies from food poisoning . Jonas—the other remaining adult male aside from Rudkus—disappears and is never heard from again. Then an injury results in Rudkus being fired from the meat packing plant; he later takes a job at Durham's fertilizer plant. The family's hardships accumulate as Ona confesses that her boss, Connor, had raped her, and made her job dependent on her giving him sexual favors. In revenge, Rudkus attacks Connor, resulting in his arrest and imprisonment.
After being released from jail, Rudkus finds that his family has been evicted from their house. He finds them staying in a boarding house, where Ona is in labor with her second child. She dies in childbirth at age eighteen from blood loss; the infant also dies. Rudkus had lacked the money for a doctor. Soon after, his first child drowns in a muddy street. Rudkus leaves the city and takes up drinking. His brief sojourn as a hobo in rural United States shows him that there is really no escape—farmers turn their workers away when the harvest is finished.
Rudkus returns to
Men walking on wooden rails between cattle pens in the Chicago stockyard (1909) Workers in the union stockyards
* JURGIS RUDKUS, a Lithuanian who immigrates to the US and struggles
to support his family.
* ONA LUKOSZAITE RUDKUS, Jurgis' teenage wife.
* MARIJA BERCZYNSKAS, Ona’s cousin. She dreams of marrying a
musician. After Ona's death and Rudkus' abandonment of the family, she
becomes a prostitute to help feed the few surviving children.
* TETA ELZBIETA LUKOSZAITE, Ona’s stepmother. She takes care of
the children and eventually becomes a beggar.
* GRANDMOTHER SWAN, another Lithuanian immigrant.
* DEDE ANTANAS, Jurgis' father. He contributes work despite his age
and poor health; dies from a lung infection.
* JOKUBAS SZEDVILAS, Lithuanian immigrant who owns a deli on Halsted
* EDWARD MARCINKUS, Lithuanian immigrant and friend of the family.
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Sinclair published the book in serial form between February 25, 1905 and November 4, 1905 in Appeal to Reason , the socialist newspaper that had supported Sinclair's undercover investigation the previous year. This investigation had inspired Sinclair to write the novel, but his efforts to publish the series as a book met with resistance. An employee at Macmillan wrote,
I advise without hesitation and unreservedly against the publication of this book which is gloom and horror unrelieved. One feels that what is at the bottom of his fierceness is not nearly so much desire to help the poor as hatred of the rich.
Five publishers rejected the work as too shocking. Sinclair was
about to self-publish a shortened version of the novel in a
"Sustainer's Edition" for subscribers when
Doubleday, Page came on
board; on February 28, 1906 the Doubleday edition was published
simultaneously with Sinclair's of 5,000 which appeared under the
imprint of “
The copyright (in some countries) expired after 100 years, so there
is now (as of March 11, 2006) a free or "public domain" copy of the
book available on the web site of
See Sharp Press published an edition based on the original
Upton Sinclair intended to expose "the inferno of exploitation ", but the reading public fixed on food safety as the novel's most pressing issue. Sinclair admitted his celebrity arose "not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef". Some critics have attributed this response to the characters, most of whom, including Rudkus, have unpleasant qualities. The last section, concerning a socialist rally Rudkus attended, was later disavowed by Sinclair. But his description of the meatpacking contamination captured readers' attention.
Sinclair's account of workers falling into rendering tanks and being ground along with animal parts into "Durham's Pure Leaf Lard" gripped the public. The poor working conditions, and exploitation of children and women along with men, were taken to expose the corruption in meat packing factories.
The British politician
In 1933, the book became a target of the Nazi book burnings due to Sinclair's endorsement of socialism.
Learning about the visit, owners had their workers thoroughly clean the factories prior to the inspection, but Neill and Reynolds were still revolted by the conditions. Their oral report to Roosevelt supported much of what Sinclair portrayed in the novel, excepting the claim of workers falling into rendering vats. Neill testified before Congress that the men had reported only "such things as showed the necessity for legislation." That year, the Bureau of Animal Industry issued a report rejecting Sinclair's most severe allegations, characterizing them as "intentionally misleading and false", "willful and deliberate misrepresentations of fact", and "utter absurdity".
Roosevelt did not release the Neill-Reynolds Report for publication.
His administration submitted it directly to Congress on June 4, 1906.
Public pressure led to the passage of the
Meat Inspection Act and the
Pure Food and Drug Act
Sinclair rejected the legislation, which he considered an unjustified boon to large meat packers. The government (and taxpayers) would bear the costs of inspection, estimated at $30,000,000 annually. He complained about the public's misunderstanding of the point of his book in Cosmopolitan Magazine in October 1906 by saying, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."
A film version of the novel was made in 1914, but it has since been lost .
* ^ Brinkley, Alan (2010). "17: Industrial Supremacy". The
Unfinished Nation. McGrawHill. ISBN 978-0-07-338552-5 .
* ^ Van Wienen, Mark W. (2012). "American socialist triptych: the
literary-political work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Upton Sinclair,
and W.E.B. Du Bois. n.p.". Book Review Digest Plus (H.W. Wilson).
University of Michigan Press.
* ^ "Upton Sinclair", Social History (blog) (biography) .
* ^ Sinclair, Upton, "Note", 'The Jungle, Dover Thrift, pp.
* ^ Upton Sinclair,
Spartacus Educational .
* ^ Gottesman, Ronald. "Introduction". The Jungle. Penguin Classics
* ^ A B C Phelps, Christopher . "The Fictitious Suppression of
Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle".
History News Network . George Mason
University . Retrieved January 20, 2014.
* ^ Bloom, Harold , ed. (2002), Upton Sinclair\'s The Jungle,
Infohouse, pp. 50–51, ISBN 1604138874 .
* ^ Sinclair, Upton. "The Jungle".
* Bachelder, Chris (January–February 2006). "