Dorthy Day´s Reaction to Upton Sinclair´s The Jungle Essay

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Dorothy Day had a curious personality and a very imaginative mind. When she attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she wrote in her biography The Long Loneliness, "my reading began to be socially conscious" (Day 36). It was around this time that she began to read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Sinclair was a socialist whom Day most likely would have strongly related to. Day was a part of the Christian Socialist Movement and sympathized with a lot of Sinclair's ideals. At the time she was introduced to The Jungle, Dorothy Day lived in Chicago with her family. Coindentally, The Jungle was set in Chicago, and so Day could further relate to the realities depicted in the novel. The Jungle dealt with the cruel and shocking …show more content…

Day continues, "and though my only experience with the destitute was in books, the very fact that The Jungle was about Chicago where I lived, whose streets I walked, made me that from then on my life was to be linked with theirs" (Day 38). It was her first experiences with the poor. Her first face-to-face encounters with the reality of what she had been reading. This had made everything feel more personal to Day, making the significance of Sinclair and similar writers hold a prominent role in the forming of Day's character, and consequently in forming her actions. For example, not shortly thereafter does Day write in her autobiography, "I wanted everyone to be kind" in response to seeing the good of the Salvation Army and the condition of the poor (Day 39). She then recalls all the "abundance" of good that people had done during the San Francisco earthquake. She felt that all of humanity should exist like they had during the earthquake, a time when all people were good to each other and in a constant state of helping and caring. The Jungle wasn't just well received by Day either. Many people at the time enjoyed Sinclair's work and were captivated in similar ways as Day. What made it so interesting? The (fictional) story tells of the exploits of an immigrant family as they sought employment in the meat packing plants of Chicago. They were young and happy, but they were also very poor. In order to pay for

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