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The Jungle By Upton Sinclair

Good Essays
Jurgis and his family in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle come to America in search of higher wages and a successful life. They are quickly met with disappointment and despair as Jurgis tries to establish himself in America. The crime and corruption ridden city of Chicago and the meatpacking industry take advantage of Jurgis’s family, inflicting death and poverty upon them. The Jungle’s portrayal of immigrant life in Chicago exposes the “American Dream” as a capitalistic exploitation of immigrants. Universally praised character traits help place the entirety of the blame for the incidents on the environment that Jurgis and his family are forced into.
The Jungle presents many issues with immigrant life in the major cities. Jurgis lives in Packingtown, a part of Chicago in the book, where a large portion of the residents are Lithuanian immigrants. Cities often became sectionalized by immigrant nationality as their peers were the only ones who would provide housing while also speaking their language. The meatpacking industry would prey on these immigrant workers as they would risk their life to earn a living and support their families. This allowed the meatpacking industry to have extremely unsafe working conditions such as unheated work environments and still provide low wages. Sinclair uses Jurgis’s time in jail to truly show how rough the conditions were where he worked. He writes “They put him in a place where the snow could not beat in, where the cold could not eat through his
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