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Social Darwinism In The Jungle

Decent Essays
The aftermath of the Industrial Revolution left America’s economy and cities in a prosperous state. Immigrants flocked to the United States in search of the American Dream, and rising cities like Chicago thrived off of the meat packing and steel industries. However, the American Dream for many newcomers wasn’t all that it seemed; corrupt political bosses and machines ruled major city politics, making the working and living conditions of immigrants employed for these corporations unsubstantial. After going undercover in a meat packing plant, muckraker Upton Sinclair published The Jungle in 1906 to expose the repulsive conditions that the lower class worked in. An initial reading of this piece focuses strongly on the ideas of a capitalistic society…show more content…
In the animal kingdom, the most athletic and elite survive because they are constantly adapting to threatening forces, while the lower animals are terminated due to their inability to fight off their threats. As an immigrant, Jurgis is forced into employment at packingtown, where he is highly sought after due to his machine-like qualities; Jurgis notices that others are begging outside of the factory for jobs but are not immediately selected because their bodies are worn from years of working in other occupations. The cruel packingtown conditions eventually get the best of Jurgis after he becomes injured, and his body begins to wither. The quotation, “This wasn’t a world in which a man had any business with a family: sooner or later Jurgis would find that out also, and give up the fight and shift for himself” (139) encaptures how Jurgis eventually gives up on his family for survival, similarly to animals in the jungle having to abandon each other. Another example of Social Darwinism in the Jungle is the death of Dede Antanas. His passing supports this theory because Antanas was an elderly man that wasn’t capable of enduring the physical brutalities of the meat packing plant; the factory eroded his body, compared to a healthier, younger man that would’ve had a higher likelihood of survival. Additionally, the family wasn’t wealthy enough to give Antanas a funeral; they had to continue on with their everyday lives, which is similar to animals in a real jungle because they never have time to mourn because they have to focus on
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