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“The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair

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This essay investigates the literature in the novel “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. It establishes how meat packaging companies in Chicago exploited their workers. In addition, the essay elucidates the various ways in which the company defiled the meat that they were supposed to keep safe. According to the literature available, Sinclair had sought to expose the shameless levels of corruption that existed within private businesses as well as in the government. Ideally, it achieves this with the horrifying details it gives concerning the actual conditions of corruption and how it directly affects the lives of the people involved (Upton S. 1906 pg 160).

The capitalist economy has been portrayed in the novel as both inhuman and insensitive. This is exemplified in the manner that the employees are treated at the work place. For instance, the meat packaging company is so focused on maximizing the speed and efficiency of production to the extent that it completely ignores the effects this has on the workers. That is why the novel describes the society in Packingtown as “wage of slavery”. According to the novel this unfortunate situation has been perpetrated by the capitalists and the political class as they collude to keep the wages low so that workers remain poor. As such, the poor workers would be so desperate as to accept any kind of job as pressure for the same jobs mounted with the coming of immigrants. Undoubtedly, it was the immigrants who bore it all as the political class colluded with businessmen to fleece them of their wages through scams and products of poor quality. Essentially, corruption made the workers slaves of an economic system that they had no control over driving Sinclair to a conclusion that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” (Upton S. 1906 pg 153).

The owners of the meat company used their social power to demand sexual favors from the workers. This is particularly evident in the story of Ona, whose boss threatened to have all her relatives fired from the company if she refused to provide sexual favors. Out of complete desperation, Ona decided to meet Connor sometime later for sex just to have her relatives working in the factory. The obvious lack of job security at the factory explains Ona’s desperation as she had to worry about the financial future of their family. Actually, the bosses seem to know this and are therefore determined to utilize it to exploit the youthful workers. However, there are characters in the novel that prove too rebellious to play by the bosses’ rules. For instance, Teta was fired several times from the company that she gets into prostitution in order to survive. When things get worse in the prostitution business, she is forced to abandon her rebellious nature so that she can secure employment in the factory again (Upton S. 1906 pg 161).

The desire to obtain wealth pushed the company into using shortcuts and unsafe conditions during production in order to save on the cost of production. According to Sinclair, the meat packers would secretly pack and sell contaminated meat to unsuspecting customers in the market. Although these actions are actually executed by the workers, the novel puts the blame squarely on the meat companies. This is probably due to the fact that the workers certainly had no powers to question the directives of their bosses as they were themselves socially abused. According to Sinclair, the bosses have given a new meaning to fascism as “capitalism plus murder” (Upton S. 1906 pg 163).

In conclusion, the novel greatly succeeds in exposing the ills that capitalist system has forced upon the people. The business owners are too insensitive to care about the welfare of their workers. Worse still, they have no remorse for compromising the quality of the meat they sell to their customers. These happen even as the political class that is supposed to protect the workers collaborates with the capitalists to fleece the workers of their hard-earned cash. This is the height of impunity that defined the social class in Chicago (Upton S. 1906 pg 161).

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