Jungle Analysis


HIST 1302 Online, Analytical Assignment on the Progressive Era

Background (not to be used in your paper):  Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, told of horrible conditions in the meatpacking industry as seen through the struggles of his main character Jurgis Rudkis, a Lithuanian immigrant, and his family.  Sinclair hoped his book would highlight the plight of the worker, illustrate what was wrong with American capitalism, and promote social reform.  Historians recognize his accounts as exaggerated, but it was an instant best-seller and prompted President Teddy Roosevelt to launch an investigation into his claims.  The investigative committee discovered atrocious conditions in some plants but found others to be hygienic.  The resultant Neill-Reynolds Report spurred the passage of the Meat Inspection Act (1906), which focused on protecting the public from tainted food but not from workplace abuses.

Read the assigned excerpts from the following document:  Content Warning:  This document contains graphic descriptions illustrating the abuses of the meatpacking industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • From Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, read Chapter 9 and the first 3 paragraphs of Chapter 14 (the last sentence of paragraph 3 ends with:  “ . . . they would charge two cents more a pound.”) 

Use the details from these excerpts to answer ALL of the following questions:

  • According to Sinclair, in what ways did immigrants directly experience political corruption? 
  • According to Sinclair, what conditions did the workers experience in the plants?  
  • According to Sinclair, what was the state of the meat in these plants?

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