The Jungle

In chapter nine, how does Sinclair reinforce his theme that business and government are complicit in corrupting the democratic process?

chapter nine.

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In Chapter Nine, the process of elections comes into play. Jurgis has the morning off to go vote in an election. The police usher all the workers into the back rooms of the saloons and they are each given two dollars and told to cast a vote for a particular candidate. The union men explain the process to him: the government exists under a democracy where there are political parties. The party that “bought the most votes” was the party that will be allowed to govern. Jurgis learns about Mike Scully, the most powerful man in Packingtown. Scully owns the trash dumps and the lake of fetid water that is used for ice in the winter. There have been numerous scandals associated with Scully, but he always pays someone else to take the blame and then that person leaves the country. Scully is the leader of the “War-Whoop League,” a political club. This club also holds entertainment events, such as cockfights and dogfights, for the workers. Scully’s “Indians,” as they are called, are responsible for rounding up the immigrant men and making them citizens so that they can vote. Scully is so powerful that “even the packers [are] in awe of him.”

The government inspectors, which all the people believe are protecting them from diseased meat, are actually appointed at the request of the packinghouses themselves. The only authority these men have is to make sure all diseased meat stays in the state. It does not mean that it cannot be used for food. The packers also pay the local government “two thousand dollars a week hush-money” so that there are no inspections on tubercular steers. The packers like to butcher tubercular steers because they fatten more quickly.