Upton Sinclair: A Voice For Food Safety Essay

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In 1906 Doubleday published a fiction novel based in reality and centered on immigrant life in the Chicago meat packing district. “The Jungle,” was written by Upton Sinclair, a 27 year old author from Baltimore under a $500 advance from a socialist newspaper. This novel soon became a focus of controversy and change within the United States. Though known more for it’s horrific portrayal of the conditions inside slaughterhouses, only 60 pages of the 413 pages that make up “The Jungle” detail the goings-on of the meat packing industry.Sinclair’s book was intended to be a political and social commentary on the plight of the worker during the turn of the century. Oddly enough, the story opens with a wedding. The protagonist, Jurgis…show more content…
Jurgis’ father, Antanas is also betrayed by the American dream, and is only able to find a job if he provides a kick-back of 33% of his wages to the man who found it for him. These types of issues relating to characters finding “honest work” are a continuing central theme throughout the novel. These hardships only seem to intensify as winter brings illness to the family. Jurgis is becoming increasingly aware of the corruption of the management of Packingtown and finally joins a union after a long period holding out. His contacts within the union persuade him to learn to speak English, become an American citizen, and vote in elections. This introduction into politics will not become a major theme until much later in the novel, but will eventually become the central focus of Sinclair’s work. Towards this point in the novel, the horror stories of the packing plants begin to unfold. Particular revulsions that occur within the fertilizer plant are retold ad infinitum during later events that transpire as a result of the novel. One such tale is that of the worker that falls into the machines. Since he is unable to be rescued, he becomes part of the product. The tales that surface in the novel only bring Jurgis to further become leery of the corruption and dishonesty that exist within the industry. As the story progresses, more and

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