Upton Sinclair — страница 3

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action. Jurgis views the factories with undiluted optimism. In no way does he express unwillingness to work hard at becoming a part of his new country. Sinclair portrays him as utterly committed to the American values on which the American dream is based. Again, he wishes the reading public to identify with the immigrant laborer. Jokubas views the entire process with sarcasm because he knows better. He knows that the corrupt owners of the vast meat-packing business empire betray the values of the American dream in every way possible. Furthermore, Jurgis’s naturalization as an American citizen is tainted with corruption elections are rigged through an extensive vote buying scheme. Sinclair portrays the capitalism as a force that corrupts the very foundation of American political

values. “Jurgis would find out these things for himself, if he stayed there long enough; it was the men who had to do all the dirty jobs, and so there was no deceiving them…he would soon find out his error – for nobody rose in Packingtown by doing good work…” (Sinclair 155). Members of the Chicago criminal underworld take advantage of ignorant, impoverished wage laborers to pervert the democratic process according to the wishes of big businessmen and their cronies. Big capitalists often justified brutal labor practices with Social Darwinism. They twisted Darwin’s theory by stating that they were operating according to natural norms. Only the fittest and the strongest are meant to survive. They considered themselves the “fittest” of the human race because they were

so successful. The wage laboring class was considered an inferior form of humanity. The racism and prejudice against immigrants helped this belief to gain power and influence in American culture. Sinclair portrays a Darwinian kind of fight for survival in Packingtown. However, being fit and strong has nothing to do with survival. The working conditions within capitalism ruin strong, healthy individuals as well as the crippled, the weak, and the old. Survival comes easily to those who are corrupt. “Sinclair presented his case not just in terms of exploitation but in metaphors of declension of corruption, and infestation: the worker’s degradation seems, in fact, to stem from the poisonous world they inhabit” (Wilson 369). Sinclair accuses capitalism of making sustained

commitment to the family nearly impossible. Ona has to return to work a mere week after giving birth. She does not have the opportunity to be a mother to her child. Jurgis’s long work hours prevent the development of a strong bond with his son. Their poverty, a result of capitalist economics, prevents them from being together as a family. Jonas disappears without warning. It is possible that he died while at work, but it is more likely that he simply abandoned the family. Within the capitalist system, families are a burden best avoided if a single individual wishes to survive (Dembo 360). The constant anxiety of the wage laborer encourages tension in a family. Jurgis is forced to lie on his back for two months because of an accident. His employer refuses to take responsibility

for his injury even though the accident is a direct result of unsafe working conditions. His frustration leads him to be violent to the children as well as everyone else. Moreover, he beats Stanislovas to force him to go to work. He has no other choice because the family cannot do without the boy’s wages. A crippled child is a burden in life as well as in death. Moreover, Kristoforas dies from eating the same poisoned meat his adult family members help pack in the factories. Having to work weakens the bonds that Vilimas and Nikalojus have with their family. They begin staying out at night, and the adults fear they will run away eventually. Sinclair clearly portrays capitalism as a threat to the integrity of the family. Jurgis entrance in the underworld of crime demonstrates

that merciless predation, thievery, and dishonesty are far better rewarded than commitment to fundamental American values. It also provides an inside look into the corruption of the justice system and the democratic political process. Jurgis makes far more money by mugging, rigging elections, and working as a scab than ever before. Sinclair positions capitalism as a threat to the American way. It might seem odd that the meat packer would go to the expense of importing labor from all around the country to break the strike instead of settling. However, the practice of importing wage labor actually serves their interests in the end. The capitalists have the power and influence to withstand the temporary expense of a strike while the strikers are too poor to remain jobless for very