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The Jungle

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Chrissy Campion

HST 110 10:40AM

The Jungle

September 15, 2006

At the turn of the 20th century, many people from Europe were immigrating to America in search of a better life and to make something of themselves, to live the American dream, much like Jurgis, a character in The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. Many struggled with the hardships of being an immigrant with unfair practices of money hungry Americans, the adjustment to a new way of life, along with staying true to their values, as described in The Jungle. Life was hard for immigrants to adjust and deal with the stereotypes attached to them along with the corruption.

In the early 1900s, America had a lot of corruption brewing, especially in that of big businesses such as the railroad and oil companies. This was also the case in the meat packing industry. Jurgis was able to have a job sweeping the slaughtered cattle, an unglamorous job, but he was able to earn money and like many immigrants, would take any job available (Sinclair, 71). Although the job didn't pay well, Jurgis was happy to be working. Many of the jobs at this time were paying its employees very little money for the work given, but due to no laws protecting them, nothing was done about it.

It was here that Jurgis first noticed the unsanitary conditions of the meatpacking industry; he witnessed many animal remains go unchecked by a meat inspector (Sinclair, 76). This is an example of how unsanitary this job was and the lack of care the government had for its people. Many of the meats packed into cans were unfit for people to eat and disease ridden, and no one did anything about it.

There was also corruption among the real estate industry. Jurgis' family found an ad for a house that would be perfect for the family. After signing the contract, they realized all their hidden fees and extra payments they would have to give to the realtor. The house was not their perfect dream house they were anticipating, it was smaller then expected with the basement and attic unfinished (Sinclair, 87). Many immigrants at this time would flock to the major cities and would be crammed into small living areas. Jurgis and his family had to pack themselves into this house, and barely having any leisure room. In some buildings, 700 people would cram themselves in back-to-back buildings with three rooms for each family (Armitage, 518). Within these packed buildings, disease would carry easily (Armitage, 520), and the cost of living was very overpriced.

Even the justice system had sleazy practices. When Jurgis found out about Ona's and her relations with the boss, he became angered and took his feelings out on the boss, which landed him in jail. During his arrest, he was treated less like a human and more like a rag doll. He would be kicked if he didn't walk fast enough, or cursed for looking the wrong way (Sinclair, 183). He is again treated unfairly when he is arrested the second time for assaulting a bartender who scammed him out of his money (Sinclair . Even his trial was unfair, and no matter what Jurgis could have said, he would still be put in jail. Because Jurgis was an immigrant and not yet an official citizen of America, he wasn't seen as a person who deserved respect or a fair chance. Countless immigrants had to deal with the

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