The Jungle

How does propaganda fit into the story?


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In an essay from 1925, Sinclair writes, "All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda." Sinclair is honest and upfront that his writings have a specific purpose: to influence people to act in a particular moral way. Sinclair believed this ideal of writing was exemplified by Tolstoy, who is briefly mentioned in one of the novel's closing chapters.

The Jungle is the best American representation of this belief in the role of art as propaganda. Sinclair believed that art is not created simply for the sake of creating something beautiful in the tradition of previous ages. A novel should make specific moral claims of how people should behave. In the case of The Jungle, Sinclair uses vivid scenes of violence and despair to illicit specific emotional responses from his audience. In this way, his novel becomes a method of propaganda. Sinclair believed that all art works in this way, even if the artist does not intentionally mean for it to be used as such.