Set in the stockyards of Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century, “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair is a novel about the brutal conditions of the workers in the meatpacking industry. It exposed the corruption, unsanitary conditions, and health violations in the city that supplied a large portion of America’s meat, and ultimately led to the creations of the laws that ensure unadulterated and sanitary food products up until today.

The novel follows the life of Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus after he moves with his new wife and family to Chicago. There, he falls prey to con men, low wages, insanitary work conditions, seasonal changes, physical decay, family accidents, and gloom and despair.

This book was a depiction of the harsh conditions of an immigrant living in Chicago seeking work at the turn of the century. This book is neither light nor one with much of a plot, but it gives the reader a glimpse of America’s past through a fictional narrative. It also contains ideas of socialism and socialist beliefs. I would not recommend this book to everyone, but I think that if the summary interests you, then this book might be worth the read.
-Valerie, Grade 11

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