The Jungle

Upton Sinclair's Indictment of Wage Slavery in The Jungle

The lash which drives [the modern slave—the slave of the factory, the sweat shop] cannot be either be seen or heard . . . This slave is never hunted by bloodhounds; he is not beaten to pieces by picturesque villains, nor does he die in ecstasies of religious faith. His religion is but another snare of his oppressors, and the bitterest of his misfortunes; the hounds that hunt him are disease and accident, and the villain who murders him is merely the prevailing wages.

In his evocative exposé detailing the evils of the Chicago meatpacking industry, The Jungle, Upton Sinclair launches a searing indictment of wage slavery. According to Sinclair, the Beef Trust ruthlessly exploited workers, subjecting them to a grueling fate worse than that experienced by chattel slaves. Compelled by sheer survival with no hope of earning profit, Industrial Age workers had no choice but to stand in line for months praying to be selected for work in one of the filthy, overcrowded factories that filled the Chicago stockyard district. Upon being chosen as one of the "lucky few" to secure a job, workers toiled under the most base labor conditions for wages that could barely support a single person, much less an entire family. Despite being...

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