The Jungle

questions in description

What view does Sinclair give us of early twentieth century capitalism? What was working in the packing industry like for Jurgis and his fellow casual laborers? Describe the work process there. What goals were the managers pursuing? How did the big meat packing firms treat workers?

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Last updated by jill d #170087
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This is a short answer forum and your questions definitely warrant far more than a short answer.

1) Though the novel was a detailed exposé of the food industry in the early twentieth century, the meatpacking industry was arguably just a setting that Sinclair used to promote his own vision of socialist politics. Sinclair used the food industry because he believed it was an industry that touched the lives of all Americans. If people could become outraged at the process that brought meat to their tables, Sinclair assumed, their outrage would subsequently affect the working conditions of laborers. The villains of the novel are the giant meatpacking facilities, a thinly disguised version of real companies that had risen to prominence in the late nineteenth century. While much of America saw these companies, and their chief executives, as a marvel of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship, Sinclair saw the enterprise as an example of capitalism’s worst abuses.

The rest of your questions are dealt with in Gradesaver's themes for the novel. There are also detailed descriptions of working conditions in the chapter summaries. If you have any further questions more specific in nature, feel free to ask.