English III Honors
12 November 2018
The central theme of Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, is the evil of capitalism. Every event in the text is chosen to portray an entirely different and unique failure of capitalism, which is, in Sinclair’s vision, inhuman, unjust, brutal, and violent. In the early 1900’s, life for America’s new Chicago immigrant workers in the meatpacking industry was a harsh and terrible life, with poor working conditions, debt, and many different sicknesses in employees. Workers would be expected to work extended shifts in unsanitary places only to make a few dollars extra that would still not be enough for their family to keep living off of. “The great corporation which employed you lied to you, and lied to the whole country-from top to bottom it was nothing but one gigantic lie,” (Sinclair).
The Rudkus family, who had originally possessed an idealistic faith in the American dream, get used up and tortured. Sinclair’s novel illustrates that Capitalism is to blame for the struggles and hardships they faced. “If we are the greatest nation the sun ever shone upon, it would seem to be mainly because we have been able to goad our wage-earners to this pitch of frenzy,” (Sinclair). The Rudkus family, who sought to find a new and prosperous life in America, instead found a place of prejudice and exploitation. “The rich people not only had all the money, they had all the chance to get more; they had all the knowledge and the power, and so the poor man was down,” (Sinclair). Sinclair sought to persuade the reader to lean towards the idea that capitalism is evil and only benefits a few while it harms the rest, while socialism however, was explored in the twenty eighth chapter of the book, which was presented as a prosperous change to the evil capitalistic ways of America.
Works Cited: Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Doubleday, 1904.