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Alba The Jungle
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is a book that was meant to shed light into the working class of America and the meatpacking industry during the early 20th century. His book inspired president Theodore Roosevelt to pass two legislations: The Food and Drug Act of 1906 & The Meat Inspection Act.
The novel focuses on a Lithuanian immigrant named Jurgus Rudkus and his family who come to America in hopes of becoming rich quickly and making a name for themselves.
They arrive in Chicago's stockyards district, & quickly realize that their dreams of America and its wealth were are far from reality. Instead of being a land of promise, it is a land full of filth, corruption, & hard labor. The workers at the meatpacking plants are poorly paid, overworke, & exposed to dangerous working conditions. Jurgis's family finds out that they all must work to survive, including Jurgis's dying father, his wife, her cousin, her uncle, and her stepmother's children. The family members who work in the slaughterhouses see the filth in the factories where the meat is processed and the sickening secrets of meatpacking. Diseased cattle and hogs are processed for consumption, as well as pregnant cows and their fetuses. The sausages are made of a random mixture of animal parts, as well as the dirt, rat carcasses and poison scooped up off the floor. After a series of tragedies, Jurgis flees to the countryside, leaving the rest of the family behind. He returns to Chicago where he finds himself penniless and starving. He begs on the streets and is in and out of jail. During one of his visits to jail, he meets a con man named Jack Duane who introduces Jurgis into a life of crime. As a criminal, Jurgis learns about the corruption in city politics, in various industries such as steel and horseracing, in the packing-plants and even in the Chicago police force.
"Here is a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers; under such circumstances, immorality is exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it is under the system of chattel slavery." pg.126
They were beaten; they had lost the game, they were swept aside. It was not less tragic because it was so sordid, because that it had to do with wages and
bills and rents. They had dreamed of freedom; of a chance to look about them and learn something; to be decent and clean, to see their child group up to be strong. And now it was all gone-it would never be!" pg.163
I believed the author's claim in the book was how life in America is glorified to people outside it.
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