The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

What is the opening scene of the novel? Where and when is it? What does this scene say about the values and culture of the novel’s characters?

The opening scene of the book, The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair follows the wedding ceremony of two Lithuanian immigrants Ona and Jurgis during the turn of the century. Jurgis and Ona had to wait a long time after coming to Chicago for their wedding to occur due to the financial hardships they suffered. In the opening scene everyone is on their way to the wedding feast, or veselija. The feast takes place in a rented hall located in Packingtown, the meat packing district which is near the stockyards of Chicago.

In trying to live up to their Lithuanian customs, during the wedding feast Ona’s cousin Marija takes over and organizes the reception. Marija is worried concerned about appearances. She runs the entire wedding feast, and her emphasis is on doing what is proper and right. Marija makes sure there is plenty of food and alcohol for everyone to eat and drink. Even people hanging in the doorway just observing are invited to attend the party. There is also a violinist playing both Lithuanian and American music.

The wedding feast scene highlights the values and culture of the various characters in the story. Even though Ona, Jurgis and their families have emigrated from Lithuania to America for a better life, they want to continue on with the traditions of their county. One of the scenes is a traditional dance where the guest’s link hands to form rotating circle while the music plays. The bride stands in the middle and the male guests take a turn dancing with her. After the dance, the male guest is supposed to place money into a hat, giving according to his means. This is to help the married couple pay for the feast. However the guests are poor working people who do not have a lot to give.

The wedding feast scene also shows that...

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