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The Jungle Essay The Jungle by Upton Sinclair clearly depicts the socio-economic strife and political turpitude that ushered America into the 20th century While telling the story of Lithuanian immigrants struggling to survive in Chicago Sinclair illustrates how avarice and ruthless competition were driving forces in the exploitational predatory capitalist jungle of American society at the turn of the century This radical novel described as muckraking by President Theodore Roosevelt was a sounding board for pro-socialist politics Sinclairs polemic drama begins in the back room of a Chicago saloon The guests are drunk and drained The prospect of returning to the rigorous labors of the stockyards right after the ceremony leaves them demoralized Jurgis Rudkus however the main character refuses to succumb to the suffering of the multitudes in Packingtown a predominantly immigrant community in Chicago He promises to work harder he wants to achieve the American dream After pooling the familys resources Jurgis is able to leave a dilapidated lodge-house for a new modest home which had hidden costs where his family would reside When Dede Antanas Jurgis father loses his job and is forced to kickback a third of his paltry salary in order to get a new job working in a dark damp pickle room Jurgis begins to lose faith in America Jurgis witnesses the darkside of American society and the resultant lassitude in the workforce Jurgis observes the butchery of pregnant cows and their unborn calves which are illegally mixed with other carcasses including those of sick animals dead on arrival to the stock yards for consumption He witnesses beatings graft and dirty deals As winter approaches the marriage of Jurgis to Ona becomes cheerless The pressures of work poverty and illness stifle their spirits Jurgis father dies Vexed by the working conditions of Packingtown Jurgis joins a labor union where he begins to learn English He develops a cynical attitude towards democracy Eventually the deteriorating working conditions sickness and despair
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