The Jungle

The (Literal) Jungle: Symbolism and Meaning in Sinclair's Narrative 12th Grade

Charles Darwin put forward the idea that nature showed prevalent consistency in a pattern of “survival of the fittest.” In the classic realist novel The Jungle, this concept is also present throughout the entirety of the story. The narrative of a man named Jurgis avidly attempting to make a living for himself in America, this novel plays upon the very idea of survival of the fittest, and it also emphasizes the fact that society, much like nature itself, functions very similar to a literal jungle as opposed to the common belief that society is very “civilized.” Through symbolism, characterization, setting, diction, and specific scenes in the novel The Jungle, Upton Sinclair effectively portrays the world and society as a whole as functioning much like an actual jungle.

Numerous symbols are used in Sinclair’s novel The Jungle. To begin, an emphasis on actual animals begins on page 39, where it is being explained, regarding industry, how “They brought in ten thousand head of cattle every day, and as many hogs, and half as many sheep. . .” Animals are then prevalent throughout the rest of the novel, and human beings are reflected as being treated similar to these animals later on in the story. The first of these places is early on...

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