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Jurgis and the American Dream

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  1. Introduction
  2. The social scenario
  3. Synopsis
  4. Conclusion

In Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle, a Lithuanian immigrant named Jurgis Rudkus experiences the hardships and emotions of life in the meatpacking district of Chicago, otherwise known as ?Packingtown.? Jurgis's story begins very tranquil as he is getting married to a sixteen-year-old girl named Ona Lukoszaite. However, financial issues trouble the family early on from the expenditure of their wedding. The two travel to America with relatives in search of better wages only to find longer working hours for little pay (Sinclair 25). Since Jurgis is strong and the rest of the family works hard, everyone finds jobs surprisingly quick in Packingtown. Once the working members of the family have steady incomes, they purchase a house. The trickery and injustice of the agent who sold the family the house lands them in a debt of hidden fees. Laborers continue to be abused and mistreated. The thought of injury lingers in workers heads, as this is a constant threat. Due to assault charges and a life of crime, Jurgis takes a visit to jail numerous times. One day, he finds out that his son has drowned in the street. Jurgis takes an enormous emotional blow and leaves Chicago to become a tramp.

He has experiences away from town and his behavior changes over this time. Jurgis experiences hard times in finding work due to evil, capitalistic predators. At the end of the novel, Jurgis distinguishes utilization to his life when he attends a Socialist meeting. This is one of the only optimistic events that could help Jurgis. However, the book ends before the reader finds out. Nonetheless, in a reaction to all of the struggles, hardships, and death, Jurgis Rudkus is forced to abandon his sought after American Dream.

[...] This event was not part of Jurgis's idea for a healthy life so this put an emotional burden on him especially since he is viewed as the backbone of the family. He then finds Ona in an attic delivering the couple's second child, but Ona and the baby both die during childbirth. It is demoralizing to think of what Jurgis feels. He has taken ten steps backward in the event of achieving his American Dream. Devastation and sadness flows through his veins and at this point it all seems lost. [...]


[...] These pay cuts did not aid that dream. Due to the working conditions in the meat packing factories, Jurgis's sprained his ankle and could not work for three months. Something resembling workers compensation may have aided his financial troubles in today's society but being in Jurgis's time, this is not the case. Jurgis's doctor even said that, injury was not one that Durham and Company could be held responsible for, and so that was all there was to (113). After he recovers, other family members also suffer injury and sickness. [...]


[...] Jurgis and Ona's neighborhood is gloomy and full of the stench of rotting animals. There is a gruesome sight of flies everywhere and the city's smoke stacks funnel to the sky. Even Jurgis is daunted by the atmosphere, which is surprising because he is a tough, hard man usually not fazed by many things. What is even more disturbing is that Sinclair describes, most uncanny thing about this neighborhood was the number of the children? (30). Sinclair then goes on about not having many schools around the neighborhood and how the children crowd the streets (30). [...]

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