The Jungle
The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by journalist Upton Sinclair. Sinclair wrote the novel to point out the troubles of the working class and to show the corruption of the American meatpacking industry during the early-20th century. The novel depicts in harsh tones poverty, absence of social programs, unpleasant living and working conditions, and hopelessness prevalent among the working class, which is contrasted with the deeply-rooted corruption on the part of those in power. Sinclair's observations of the state of turn-of-the-century labor were placed front and center for the American public to see, suggesting that something needed to be changed to get rid of American " wage slavery". The novel was first published in serial form in 1905 in the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason . It was based on undercover work done in 1904: Sinclair spent seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the meatpacking plants of the Chicago stockyards at the behest of the magazine's publishers. He then started looking for a publisher who would be willing to print it in book form. After five rejections by publishers who found it too shocking for publication, he funded the first printing himself. It was published by Doubleday, Page & Company on February 28, 1906 and has been in print ever since.

Plot summary
The novel opens with a dramatic description of a Lithuanian wedding feast hosted by the Liermans, which introduces the reader to all of the major characters and some of the secondary characters: Jurgis Rudkus (originally "Rudkos" ), his bride Ona, their extended family and their friends. Nearly every person who has passed by the building has been invited to attend the feast, as was the custom from the old country. Musicians play, the guests dance, food and drink flow freely, but an undercurrent of terror foreshadows what is to come, their generous hospitality has cost them much, but the traditional donations expected of the guests are few in number and small in size. Lured away from Lithuania by promises of work, Rudkus and his bride's family have arrived in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois at the end of the 19th century, only to find their dreams of a decent life unlikely to be realized. Jurgis has brought his father Antanas, his fiancée Ona, her stepmother Teta Elzbieta (literally "Aunt Elizabeth") and Teta Elzbieta's six children. Teta Elzbieta's brother Jonas and Ona's cousin Marija Berczynskas have accompanied them. From the beginning, they have to make compromises and concessions to survive. They quickly make a series of bad decisions that causes them to go deep into debt and fall prey to con men. The most devastating decision comes when, in hopes of owning their own home, the family falls victim to a predatory lending scheme that exhausts all their remaining savings on the down-payment for a sub-standard slum house that (by design) they cannot possibly afford. The family is evicted and their money taken, leaving them truly devastated. The family had formerly envisioned that Jurgis alone would be able to support them in America, but one by one, all of them " the women, the young children, and Jurgis's sick father " have to find jobs in order to contribute to the meager family income. The reality of having to work in an unsympathetically capitalist society takes a hold of their family as they are forced to succumb to the demands of the upper class. As the novel progresses, the jobs and means the family uses to stay alive slowly and inevitably lead to their physical and moral decay. They faced a cruel world of work in the Chicago Stockyards, where everyone has his or her price, where everyone in a position of power, including government inspectors, the police and judges, must be paid off, and where blacklisting is common. A series of unfortunate events " accidents at work, a number of deaths in the family that under normal circumstances could have been preventable " leads the family further toward catastrophe. Jurgis Rudkus, the book's main character, is young, strong, and honest, but also naïve and illiterate; this Lithuanian farmboy is no match for the powerful forces of American industry and he gradually loses all hope of succeeding in the New World. After Ona dies in childbirth " for lack of money to pay for a doctor " and their young son drowns in the muddy street, he flees the city in utter despair. At first the mere presence of fresh air is balm to his soul, but his brief sojourn as a hobo in rural America shows him that there is really no escape " even farmers turn their workers away when the harvest is finished. Jurgis returns to Chicago and holds down a succession of jobs outside the meat packing industry " digging tunnels, as a political hack, and as a con-man " but injuries on the job, his past and his innate sense of personal integrity continue to haunt him, and he drifts without direction. One night, while looking for a warm and dry refuge, he wanders into a lecture being given by a charismatic Marxist/ Socialist orator, and finds a sense of community and purpose. Socialism and strong labor unions are the answer to the evils that he, his family and their fellow sufferers have had to endure. A fellow Socialist employs him, and he resumes his support of his wife's family, although some of them are damaged beyond repair. The book ends with another Socialist rally, which comes on the heels of several recent political victories. The speaker encourages his comrades to keep fighting for victories, chanting "Chicago will be ours!"

Major characters
  • Jurgis Rudkus is a strong-willed Lithuanian who wants a better life for his family. He hears about the freedoms of America and decides to emigrate. He works hard, knowing that the welfare of his family and friends depends on him.
  • Ona Rudkus, an eighteen-year-old, is married to a strong Lithuanian farmer named Jurgis. She had a child named Dede Antanas and heard of the greatness of America from her husband, who had never before let her down. Later in the story, while giving birth to the child that is the product of rape, she dies from blood loss.
  • Marija Berczynskas, a masculine woman, who is Ona’s cousin, has a dream to marry a musician and tour with him around America. After Ona’s death, and Jurgis's abandonment, she gives up and becomes a prostitute to help feed the few children left.
  • Elzbieta, Ona’s stepmother, is not very fond of Jurgis. She takes care of the children, and, making sure they come first, she dies of starvation.

Minor characters
  • Bobby, a judge
  • Grandmother Majauzskiene is the only other Lithuanian in the Immigrant section of Chicago and tells Jurgis everything about the people and the house that Jurgis is moving into.
  • Dede Antanas, Jurgis’s father, is at a very old age and insists to help Jurgis and the family pay for the house and food, but the working conditions get too hard for him and he dies from a lung infection.
  • Jokubus Szedvilas, a fellow-Lithuanian immigrant who owns a deli on Halsted Street
  • Jadvyga Marcinkus, a fellow Lithuanian immigrant and a friend of the family
  • Tamoszius Kuszleika, a fiddler who, for a while, becomes Marija's fiancé
  • Jonas Lukoszas, he is Ona’s blood related brother, he couldn’t take the living conditions and leaves the family and ends up in worse conditions, no one knows if he is dead or alive.
  • Stanislovas Lukoszas,a young 13 year old boy, he is Elizibetas only son, he works in one of Durhams factories and get locked in after falling asleep, and gets eaten alive by rats.
  • Mike Scully (originally Tom Cassidy), the Democratic Party "boss" of the yards (and indirectly responsible for Jurgis's suffering)
  • Phil Connor,a boss at the factory where Ona works.
  • Miss Henderson, Ona's superintendent at the wrapping-room and Connor's former mistress
  • Antanas, a small boy,otherwise known as “baby” Antanas Rudkus and Jurgis and Ona’s only son, as a toddler, he falls down on an elevated sidewalk and drowns in the deep mud puddle.
  • Vilimas and Nikalojus, two of Elzbieta's other children
  • Kristoforas, a crippled son of Elzbieta
  • Juozapas, another crippled son of Elzbieta
  • Kotrina, Elzbieta's daughter
  • Judge Pat Callahan, a crooked, xenophobic judge who sentences Jurgis to jail time after he beats Connor
  • Jack Duane, a thief that Jurgis meets in prison, they come up with a plan to escape and make it out. After the escape he disappears and flees to another city.
  • Madame Haupt, a midwife who is unable to save Ona's life
  • Freddie Jones, the son of a wealthy beef baron who, in a drunken stupor, brings Jurgis to his mansion for food and drink, and who gives Jurgis a $100 bill
  • Buck Halloran, an Irish "political worker" who oversees vote-buying operations
  • Bush Harper, a man who works for Mike Scully as a union spy
  • Ostrinski, a Polish immigrant. A Socialist, he befriends Jurgis and teaches him the tenets of Socialism, and how it can overcome the "evils" of a capitalist society.
  • Tommy Hind, the Socialist owner of Hind's Hotel. He employs Jurgis and encourages him to tell his story of working in the packing plants to guests.
  • Mr. Lucas, a Socialist pastor and itinerant preacher
  • Nicholas Schliemann, a Swedish philosopher and Socialist
  • Durham a business man, he is Jurgis’s first employer and takes immigrants and gives them low paying jobs where most of them die because of the horrible working conditions.

Public and federal response
Upton Sinclair originally intended to expose "the inferno of exploitation ," but the reading public instead fixated on food safety as the novel's most pressing issue. In fact, Sinclair bitterly admitted his celebrity rose, "not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef". Sinclair's account of workers falling into rendering tanks and being ground, along with animal parts, into "Durham's Pure Leaf Lard", gripped public attention. The morbidity of the working conditions, as well as the exploitation of children and women alike that Sinclair exposed showed the corruption taking place inside the meat packing factories. President Theodore Roosevelt considered Sinclair a "crackpot" and wrote to William Allen White, "I have an utter contempt for him. He is hysterical, unbalanced, and untruthful. Three-fourths of the things he said were absolute falsehoods. For some of the remainder there was only a basis of truth." The President was leery of aligning himself with Sinclair's politics and conclusions in The Jungle, so he sent Labor Commissioner Charles P. Neill and social worker James Bronson Reynolds, men whose honesty and reliability he trusted, to Chicago to make surprise visits to meat packing facilities. Despite betrayal of the secret to the meat packers, who worked three shifts a day for three weeks to clean the factories prior to the inspection, Neill and Reynolds were still revolted by the conditions at the factories and at the lack of concern by plant managers. Their oral report to Roosevelt tentatively supported Sinclair, failing only to substantiate the claim of workers falling into rendering vats and being left to be sold as lard. Neill testified before Congress that they had reported only "such things as showed the necessity for legislation" and that he did not think it was also necessary to "praise things where they were worthy of praise." A report by the Bureau of Animal Industry rejected Sinclair's severest allegations, characterizing them as "intentionally misleading and false," "willful and deliberate misrepresentations of fact," and "utter absurdity." Roosevelt, not in favor of the heavy regulation the public outcry would have caused, did not release the findings of the Neill-Reynolds Report for publication. Instead, he helped the issue by dropping hints from the report, alluding to disgusting conditions and inadequate inspection measures. Public pressure led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which established the Bureau of Chemistry that would become the Food and Drug Administration in 1930. Sinclair rejected the legislation, as he viewed it as an unjustified boon to large meat packers partially because the U.S., rather than the packers, was to bear the costs of inspection at $30,000,000 a year. He famously noted the limited effect of his book by stating, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."



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