The Jungle Essay Research Paper The Jungle

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The Jungle Essay, Research Paper The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is a dreary story that depicts the life of a working man in the early twentieth century. The book shows the horrid working conditions placed about the Chicago factory workers and the horrors of the standard of living. The book follows behind an immigrant from Russia who hopes to strike it rich in America. Sinclair consistently throws problems at the man who runs from one scenario to the next. The title of the book comes from an old saying, “it’s a jungle out there.” meaning that the world is so complex and busy, it is hard to comprehend all that is taking place. That is exactly how the book is portrayed, as a jungle. So many things are going on like crime, politics, corruption, business, and families, that

the main character has a hard time trying to adjust from his simple struggle to survive in Russia. The novel takes place in Packingtown, a small area in Chicago during the early 1900’s. Packingtown is made up of a a few stores and two big meat processing plants. The whole area is based on the plants where most of the people are employed. Packingtown is not a pretty place. The air is filled with a black smoke that pours all day long from the big factories. The streets are not paved and the working conditions are terrible. The setting is a perfect place for a man to struggle from one problem to the next without ever finding the solace of comfort and relaxation. The time is important to the novel because it is before any laws on working conditions and food quality have been

established. The novel takes place in several time sequences where Sinclair briefly stops to explain the new problem that the main character must overcome. The main Characters on the novel are Jugus, the man of which the story follows, Ona, Jurgis’s wife, Elzbieta, mother in law of Ona, and Marija, Ona’s cousin. Jurgis is the main character of the novel and the only person who makes any change at all. Jurgis is a big man who starts work in one of the killing beds in a meat factory. Jurgis is a man who only wants the best for Ona and when faced with a problem uses the motto, “I will work harder.” Ona is a “mere child” whose physical and emotional fragility allow little chance for survival. Elzbieta is a woman who endures tragedy after tragedy throughout the story.

Marija is an orphan. She is a young woman of immense energy, powerful body, and commanding voice. Characterization in the story is illustrative. The reader does not know the characters in the story any better on at the end of the story as he did at the beginning. Once described, the character does not deepen or become more understandable. All of the characters in the story have a purpose, they all are there to have something happen to them. The range of characterization is small and all the characters are similar in actions and words. There dimensions are all the same and so is their level of believability. The working laborer is depicted and shares little differences from the intellectual upper- class man. Also, characterization is entirely external. The author always tells the

actions of the character and tells what they are thinking. The process of thinking and moral choice are never shown. Jurgis is faced with many problems throughout the story but none more apparent than that of poverty. The level of poverty in Packingtown is that of a lower standard than we are accustomed to. Jurgis has high hopes for him and his family when the story begins and he has his job at the killing beds. But an injury stops his plans of a good lifestyle short. After healing from the injury Jurgis finds out that he no longer has his old job and must search for a new one. Jurgis is unable to find a job and following the death of one of Elzbieta’s crippled children Jurgis goes to work in the fertilizer plant, a place where no man chooses to go if he can help it. Then