"The Jungle," by Upton Sinclair, was a revolutionary novel that changed American history, especially the history of the Chicago meatpacking industry. When the book was published in 1906, it aroused anger and disgust among the American public. The horrors of the meatpacking industry were exposed by Sinclair, and the government quickly began to take action and pass legislation. Americans and immigrants who lived in Chicago were all affected by the Beef Trust, which was a powerful organization that forced peasants to suffer through tormenting labor and produced enormous profits for the rich. Comparing the history of the meatpacking industry to the work by Sinclair, one would find that the representation given to us by Sinclair is a relatively accurate portrayal of life in Chicago during the early 20th century.
[...] Although it is possible that he may have exaggerated certain aspects of his book in order to demonstrate almost every possible miserable situation that an immigrant may encounter, it was a necessary action because it made the novel unforgettable and forced the public to react. Bibliography Aduddell, Robert M. & Louis P. Cain. Public Policy toward Greatest Trust in the World.” The Business History Review, Vol No.2. (Summer, 1981), pp. 217-242. Bushnell. Some Social Aspects of the Chicago Stock Yards. [...]
[...] For example, Sinclair tells us that certain ethnic groups, especially minorities such a African Americans, were treated with total hostility and stereotyped before they were even able to find a job. He describes an event in which a strike was broken by certain ethnic groups that were “inferior” to the class of working men: these specimens of the new American hero contained an assortment of the criminals and thugs of the city, besides Negroes and the lowest foreigners—Greeks, Roumanians, Sicilians, and Slovaks.” Obviously the treatment of these immigrants and minority groups, as well as others, was below that of American workers. [...]
[...] Sinclair made no mention of any bosses who was “friendly” to their workers, and historical references do not indicate such behavior either. When the Jungle was published in 1906, many social changes took place. Although Sinclair's intention was to advocate socialism and illustrate the lives of oppressed immigrant workers, the result of this publication was passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, which is an act preventing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors, and for regulating traffic therein, and for other purposes.” The passage of this act, which was proposed by President Teddy Roosevelt, was the direct result of Sinclair's novel. [...]
[...] Sinclair describes how Jurgis received his first job: had gone to Brown's and stood there not more than half an hour before one of the bosses noticed his form towering above the rest, and signaled to Getting a job for a strong, wide-shouldered man such as Jurgis was simple. However, he would be replacing a man who has grown weak after years of tortuous labor. This tells us much about the job security that existed in the meatpacking industry. Bosses were completely unconcerned with how long their workers have been working, and they would quickly replace them a worker who has more strength and vigor. [...]
[...] Throughout the novel, workers would often break down and cry because of their misery. According to Hill, “Conditions in meatpacking factories quickly exhausted laborers; there was no relief from the long hours and constant harassment by factory foremen.” There was never enough money for proper nutrition, living conditions were terrible, and children could not be properly watched. Schooling was a federal requirement, but in Packingtown, children often worked to help their families with the income. It was easy to get away with this because it was in the interest of big business to have as many workers available as possible, their age not being a factor. [...]
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