JUNGLE, THE, Upton Beall Sinclair's novel of labor exploitation in Chicago's meatpacking industry, advanced groundbreaking food and drug legislation rather than the anticapitalist outcry the author anticipated. A member of the Socialist Party of America, in 1904 Sinclair accepted a $500 commission from the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason to write a fiction series comparing northern "wage slavery" to the South's antebellum slave system. Published in book form in 1906, The Jungle interpreted the hard-ships of ethnic workers as an odyssey toward socialist re-birth. Protagonist Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant to Packingtown, at first gladly accepts meatpacking employment. He endures long workdays in miserable conditions; loses his job in defense of his wife, whom a fore-man has seduced; is bereaved of his home, wife, and family; and, finally, after months of aimless wandering, discovers new dignity and purpose in the socialist movement. Sinclair's novel was the product of nearly two months' research in Packingtown, the laboring community adjacent to Chicago's stockyards.
However, popular reaction to the best-seller fell short of his hopes: as Sinclair famously observed, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident hit it in the stomach." Shocked at the unhygienic processing methods and product misrepresentation portrayed in the novel, consumers shunned dressed meat, while President Theodore Roosevelt launched an inquiry into packing house sanitation. The findings, which confirmed Sinclair's account, prompted Congress to pass both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.
Since the Progressive Era, scholars have valued The Jungle as a document of America's industrial and immigrant experience. Sinclair's apt descriptions of the stockyards and workday retain their emotional impact, and his celebrated portrayal of an ethnic wedding in Packingtown offers a rare glimpse of community ritual and interactions.
Bloodworth, William A., Jr. Upton Sinclair. Boston: Twayne, 1977.
Harris, Leon. Upton Sinclair, American Rebel. New York: Crowell, 1975.
Yoder, Jon A. Upton Sinclair. New York: Ungar, 1975.
See alsoMeatpacking ; andvol. 9:Conditions in Meatpacking Plants .
"Jungle, The." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/jungle
"Jungle, The." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved February 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/jungle
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.