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Representation of Working Conditions in “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair

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Sinclair, Upton, The Jungle, (Doubleday, Jabber & Company) 1906

Upton Beall Sinclair was born September 20, 1878 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was an only child of a father who sold a lot of different stuff from liquor, hat, and etc. and his wife who lived poorly. Sinclair graduated from the New York City College in 1897 entering at only fourteen years old, after graduating he attended Colombia University to study law. Sinclair was one of the most important writers of the 1900’s because of the politics and business he would write about. One of his more important novels was “The Jungle “which talked about the working conditions in a meat-packing industry. In result of him writing this novel he helped improve the working conditions. Upton later died on November 25,1968.

The Jungle talks about a Lithuanian family immigrating to Chicago in wanting a better life and finding work. The couple of Jurgis Rudkus and Ona Lukoszaitae were the family coming to find work, while Jurgis was quick to find work in a meatpacking industry with some of his family members. After working for a good amount of time and confident with their wages they decided to purchase a home as a family, but soon realizing the home came with hidden fees that they couldn’t understand because of the low knowledge of knowing any English . Ona ended up going out to get a job in the meatpacking industry as well, while everything went good for a good amount of time, once the winter came things started to go downhill because of the work slowing down and the family getting paid less. Despite the loss of a loved one, Ona gave birth to a healthy child, but right when the summer came along they all went to go back to work to produce for the family again.

Jurgais later discovers that Ons’s boss Conner has been raping her and forced her into brothel a couple of times. Jurgis losses it and immediately finds Conner and beats him, after all of this Jurgis is put in to jail for about thirty days for aggravated assault. After Jurgis gets released from jail, he finds out that his family has been evicted from their house and his wife Ona was sick with their child, sadly Ona and the child were not able to survive the illness. Not letting the death put him down Jurgis finds a new job to support his child and the rest of the family, with no luch Jurgis eventually leaves Chicago and becomes a tramp for the rest of that summer. Coming back to Chicago he becomes a crime worker for a political boss to be able to support himself, which feel apart when he ran into Conner again and gets put back to jail, he pays his bail and runs to the other side of Chicago. He attends a socialist speech to get out of the cold but the message triggers Jurgis, after hearing the speech he hopes himself for a better future for himself in socialism.

The main location of “The Jungle” took place in Chicago, Illinois. Packingtown is Chicago’s meatpacking district in the 1900’s. The family traveled to Packingtown, Illinois which was the Chicago main places for the meat-packing. Packingtown was the main place to find work in Chicago and that’s where the family decided to go. Chicago was also the main place in where the family bought their home.

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Jurgis was put in jail in a jail in Chicago as well. Also Jurgis went across the whole town to run away from Conner and ended up in a Socialism speech in just a different part of Chicago. So most of the story took place in the city of Chicago.

The Jungle was a reorientation of the Progressive era. The story talked about the causes and concerns during this time period in American history. It also shows the struggle of an Immigrant from another country trying to find a better life for him and his family. It shows all the ups and downs he went and struggles of the working class in American. From the horrible work conditions of the factory and how bad the bosses treated immigrants wanting to work.

The family was just trying to come to America just to have a better life than they did in Lithuania. But found out the reality of America work in factories and plant work. The city was also full of crime which didn’t help there wants. But at the end it also showed the Socialism during the progressive era of how some people wanted to change to a republican president instead of a democrat in wishing that the times would change in America with more work and better money opportunities

The issues that went down in this book was how many immigrants were coming to America wanting the “American Dream” which thinking that there was going to be jobs for them and money for them to make. But all that was just a reality, it showed in the book how bad the working conditions were in the meat-packing factory of how dangerous and contaminated it was. Sinclair wrote this book to expose these conditions in the meat-packing industry, which later led to new safety laws that these establishments had to follow.

Some issues were also the money problems these immigrants had and how easy it was to lose their jobs. In “The Jungle” it explained how the family had no work during the winter which made it real difficult for them in making money cause that all the work they had. They ended up losing their home and also them not having money led to the death of Ona and the child she was carrying at the time. It also showed how much that the American bosses would take advantage of their immigrating workers, for example when Conner was raping Ona, and she only did it because she was “ going to get paid more” and well she did it because of the trouble to find jobs and make money in America was at the time.

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Representation of Working Conditions in “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Representation of Working Conditions in “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
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Representation of Working Conditions in “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 Sept 25]. Available from:
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