The Struggles of Families in Poverty in The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

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“In twentieth-century America the history of poverty begins with most working people living on the edge of destitution, periodically short of food, fuel, clothing, and shelter” (Poverty in 20th Century America). Poverty possesses the ability to completely degrade a person, as well as a family, but it can also make that person and family stronger. In The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, a family of immigrants has to live in severe poverty in Packingtown, a suburb of Chicago. The poverty degrades the family numerous times, and even brings them close to death. Originally the family has each other to fall back on, but eventually members of the family must face numerous struggles on their own, including “hoboing it” and becoming a prostitute. The…show more content…
Language further hinders the family.
Poverty also has detrimental effects on families. Poor children possess a greater risk for iron deficiency, stunted growth, and asthma. “For parents struggling to raise a child, poverty adds extensive stress to the family” (Driscoll). As a result of constantly working, Jurgis rarely spends time with his son, Antanas. However, when he suffers an injury he finally gets this opportunity, “So Jurgis would begin to forget and be happy, because he was in a world where there was a thing so beautiful as the smile of little Antanas” (Sinclair 134-135). While the family remains intact, they do not remain that way for very long. Jonas leaves the family before long, and eventually Jurgis leaves the family as well. “‘No’, she answered, ‘I don’t blame you. We never have--any of us. You did your best--the job was too much for us’” (Sinclair 332). Marija clearly gave up hope for their family long ago.
Another aspect of poverty remains the way a person looks at the family. Regardless of a person’s self confidence and secureness, one cannot help but to care about another person’s opinion. The family receives the evil eye all the time. Jurgis even gets blacklisted from Packingtown, taking away his ability to get a job and support the family. This occurs as a result of Jurgis protecting his wife from her boss who imposed his will on her. “They gazed at him with pitying eyes--poor devil, he was blacklisted!… he could never
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