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The Jungle

 

by Upton Sinclair
 
Sinclair's book ,"The Jungle" is probably one of his best
known novels. It exposed conditions in the meat-packing
industry and led to passage of the nation's first pure food
laws. Sinclair was an American writer and an active social
and political reformer. 
 
Sinclair was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His family came
from the ruined Southern aristocracy. His father was a
liquor salesman whose alcoholism shadowed Sinclair's
childhood. He gained fame with the novel "The Jungle". In
other novels and nonfiction works, he attacks capitalistic
society and the books reflect the world's concerns with
Communism and fascism. In addition to writing a stream of
books, Sinclair was an active social and political reformer
and his writings reflect his views. He helped organize the
American Civil Liberties Union and the League for
Industrial Democracy. He ran unsuccessfully three times
each for Congress and for governor of California. 
 
The story itself takes place in Chicago with a group of
immigrants. They come to the U.S. and discover that it's a
cruel, harsh world as they experience numerous mishaps. The
first is a marr iage which costs much money, and the second
is a death. After this, comes a house which is sold to the
one couple for three times the value of the house. It's at
this time that the parents and other groups move into this
house and one of the people go to work in a meat packing
business and learns about the unsanitary conditions.
Another character in the story is a musician who is
currently down on his luck and his wife has to go to work.
After a while one of the men has an accident and breaks his
arm. He has to stay away from work and when he is able to
go back, he is told that he was fired. He learns at this
point that when you are useful to the company they will
accept you, but once injured, they throw out the crippled.
At this point this character talks to a Socialist and
begins to travel to meetings. After his first Socialist
rally, he listens mainly to two people, one a ex-professor
whose has become a philosopher and the other who is
currently an evangelist who has become a traveler.
 
The theme that prevails in this book are the conditions in
the meat industry and the contrast of the social classes;
there are characters from both worlds, the rich and the
poor, and the plot carries you from one to the other. 

 




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