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The Jungle

Upton Sinclair

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title  ·  The Jungle

author  · Upton Sinclair

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Social criticism, political fiction, muckraking fiction

language  · English

time and place written  · 1905–1906, Chicago and Princeton, New Jersey

date of first publication  · 1906

publisher  · Sinclair published the novel at his own expense after several publishing firms rejected it.

narrator  · Though the narrator is anonymous, his sympathy for the laborers and vilification of capitalists identifies him as Sinclair’s mouthpiece.

point of view  · The third-person narrator focuses on what Jurgis Rudkus does and what he feels, learns, and experiences. The quasi-omniscient narrator also provides commentary on the social forces that affect characters’ lives, though often this commentary is framed as knowledge that Jurgis gains at some future point.

tone  · Sinclair’s attitude toward the story is obvious: the victimized working class is righteous, and the oppressing capitalists are evil. Sinclair’s perspective is identical to that of the narrator.

tense  · Past

setting (time)  · Early 1900s

setting (place)  · Packingtown, the meat-packing sector of Chicago

protagonist  · Jurgis

major conflict  · Jurgis and his family attempt to pursue the American Dream, but wage slavery and the oppression of capitalism shatter every aspect of their lives.

rising action  · Phil Connor’s rape of Ona; Jurgis’s having to spend Christmas in jail away from his family; Ona’s death during childbirth

climax  · Upon hearing of Antanas’s death, in Chapter 21, Jurgis feels destroyed by capitalism.

falling action  · Jurgis’s abandonment of his family and turn to dishonest means to survive; Marija’s turn to prostitution

themes  · Socialism as a remedy for the evils of capitalism; the immigrant experience and the hollowness of the American Dream

motifs  · Corruption; family and tradition

symbols  · Packingtown and the stockyards symbolize the exploitation of workers; the idea of the jungle symbolizes the capitalist idea of the survival of the fittest; cans of rotten meat symbolize the disingenuous face of capitalism; Teta Elzbieta symbolizes the family, while Jonas symbolizes capitalism’s destruction of the family.

foreshadowing  · The grim setting of Packingtown foreshadows the family’s eventual destruction; the conversation with Grandmother Majauszkiene about the housing swindle foreshadows their eviction; Jurgis’s experiences with vote-buying and crime early in the novel foreshadow his later participation in similar schemes.

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There is a mistake

by Soul_Maka, September 10, 2013

Jokubas has the financial deli failure, not Tamaosizas (I know that I didn't spell it right lol)

1 Comments

5 out of 7 people found this helpful

educated remarks for chapter 24

by kimchimichi, January 29, 2014

recall that he DID take english classes so his educated remarks might have been the result of that.

Quiz Question 19

by Daniel_SPARKSN, August 20, 2014

I just submitted the quiz and it says that Tommy Hinds is a Communist?

2 Comments

2 out of 3 people found this helpful

See all 4 readers' notes   →

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