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The Jungle (1906)

The Jungle: A Call to Social Reform

In 1906 Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, often cited as America's best proletarian novel, to international acclaim. At home and abroad readers were horrified by the large-scale poverty and social injustices revealed. The Jungle was one of the first works which jointly depicted the rampant corruption of corporate and political America. By uncovering greed as the driving force of capitalist America's expansion, Sinclair's writing illustrated how community-based social values were being twisted within America's new industrial economy. Focusing on the indignities suffered by immigrants struggling in Chicago stockyards, this novel explores fundamental social welfare themes, helping to justify the need for social intervention and suggesting why social work emerged quickly after The Jungle's publication as a professional calling. In this exposT on midwest cattle stockades, Sinclair offers a multi-layered investigation of how American life looked in this century's first decade by incorporating such dominant themes as the American work ethic, social control, religious values, noblesse oblige, the underclass, and the deserving versus the undeserving poor. In synthesizing these diverse concerns Sinclair renders a gripping tale of Chicago's working poor in 1906 beginning with a splendid immigrant wedding scene and ending with a rallying cry for the explosion of socialism.

Near the beginning of The Jungle Sinclair evokes tales of the old world, outlining a Lithuanian family's first steps taken toward achieving the American dream. Jurgis Rudkus, depicted as a broadshouldered hulking young man, has been impervious to love until one day he eyes Ona Lukoszaite. Completely smitten with her beauty and as yet never having spoken to her, Jurgis tries to barter for her hand in marriage. Her financially successful father is put off by Jurgis' attempts to win his daughter's hand in exchange for livest...

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The Jungle (1906). (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 03:09, July 28, 2021, from