Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. How does Sinclair depict the failure of attempts to improve wage laborers’ lives by working from within capitalism? Think especially about legal, social, and philanthropic efforts.
2. What do the vast stockyards, packed with animals, symbolize?
3. How do Sinclair’s political intentions affect the characters, style, and structure of the novel?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. How does the title of The Jungle relate to the themes of the novel? Give specific examples.
2. In what ways does Sinclair depict capitalism as destructive? Consider the characters’ personal lives and social interactions.
3. Do you find Sinclair’s argument for socialism persuasive? Why or why not? How does Sinclair try to persuade the reading public to accept socialism?
4. The Jungle was one of the few works of art in American history to have a substantial and immediate impact on society. Does this social impact compensate for what some critics consider the novel’s aesthetic shortcomings?
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