The Jungle is a novel that was written by Upton Beall Sinclair, an American journalist who espoused strong socialist views. Sinclair first released the novel in weekly installments in 1905 in a socialist newspaper – Appeal to Reason. Then in 1906, The Jungle was published by Doubleday, Page & Company and overnight became a best seller.
Sinclair was born in Baltimore, Maryland on September 20, 1878.
When he was about ten years old, his family moved to New York City. At the age of 15, Sinclair began writing dime novels which helped to pay for his education at City College of New York and Columbia University.
Sinclair dedicated The Jungle "To the Workingmen of America" evidencing his intent to depict the working conditions that immigrants were forced to undergo in the meatpacking industry in large American cities. However, it was not the poor working conditions that captivated America; instead it was the unhealthy and unsanitary practices in this industry that disgusted the country and which ledPresident Theodore Roosevelt to pursue new federal legislation.
Sinclair had spent seven weeks in 1904 working in the Chicago stockyards, during which time he met a large number of immigrants, who he viewed as so-called “wage slaves” whom were forced to work grueling twelve hour shifts. In The Jungle, Sinclair transformed Chicago into “Packingtown” and tells the story of the abhorrent conditions of the meat packing industry through a fictitious character – a Lithuanian immigrant named Jurgis Rudkus.
Through Rudkus’ eyes, Sinclair describes how the health inspectors would take bribes and then turn their heads away so they would not see the diseased cows being slaughtered for beef or how guts and other filth was swept from the packinghouse floor and then packaged to be sold as potted ham; or how dead rats were scooped up and thrown into the large sausage-grinding machines.
Roosevelt ordered an investigation of the Chicago meat packing industry and designated...