"The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair

Essay by Luke WinkHigh School, 11th gradeA+, August 1996

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The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is a dreary story that depicts the life of a working man in the early

twentieth century. The book shows the horrid working conditions placed about the Chicago factory

workers and the horrors of the standard of living. The book follows behind an immigrant from Russia

who hopes to strike it rich in America. Sinclair consistently throws problems at the man who runs from

one scenario to the next.

The title of the book comes from an old saying, 'it's a jungle out there.' meaning that the world

is so complex and busy, it is hard to comprehend all that is taking place. That is exactly how the book is

portrayed, as a jungle. So many things are going on like crime, politics, corruption, business, and

families, that the main character has a hard time trying to adjust from his simple struggle to survive in


The novel takes place in Packingtown, a small area in Chicago during the early 1900's.

Packingtown is made up of a a few stores and two big meat processing plants. The whole area is based on

the plants where most of the people are employed. Packingtown is not a pretty place. The air is filled

with a black smoke that pours all day long from the big factories. The streets are not paved and the

working conditions are terrible. The setting is a perfect place for a man to struggle from one problem to

the next without ever finding the solace of comfort and relaxation. The time is important to the novel

because it is before any laws on working conditions and food quality have been established. The novel

takes place in several time sequences where Sinclair briefly stops to explain the new problem that the

main character...