Tuhina Kazi
AP Language & Composition Period 6
Ms. Kiley
The Jungle Questions
In chapter one Jurgis seemed to be a shy and timid man at first, or at least a man of few words. He was "poked and scolded by the old folks" (10) until he was finally convinced to sit next to his bride Ona. He does not appear in the next couple of pages as Sinclair introduces other characters and gives a light overview of their lives. Once Jurgis emerges again in the story where a conversation was retold to him. Through his dialogue and how he thinks that by constantly working harder no matter the circumstances (22) he will be able to overcome the difficulties in life, it can be inferred that Jurgis can't be knocked down to easily because he will "work harder" once he's on his feet again. He also has an old mindset, or at least what is considered old today. He wants to be the one working while his wife stays at home. Even when Ona tells him "No! No! I dare not! It will ruin us!" (23), he simply repeats his line on working harder and to not worry.
The narrator describes the slaughter of the pigs in great detail, which drives Sinclair to invite the reader to view the process in which the pigs and beef are killed metaphorically. He does this in order to not only grab the attention of the readers and give them an inkling of what the meatpacking industry is like, but to show what how innocence is destroyed. The hog's represent the human soul that has been wrenched off the floor and taken on a "journey" (39) where they "never [come] back". The meatpacking industry deskilled the work for the employees so that they perform a constant movement that has become mechanical and without the essence of what being human holds. We "[dangle] by a foot and [kick] in a frenzy" while our pure souls are turned into something intangible.
Sinclair personifies the hogs shortly after describing the process of killing. Describing them as "innocent" (40) and trusting and "very human in their protests". Sinclair uses this figurative language to show that animals and humans are not entirely different creatures. So we should not treat them in such horrid ways. He wants his audience to build a connection with the hogs and any other animal that is subject to this type of slaughter for our own personal benefits, if it can be seen as a benefit at all really. He wants us to stop letting this go "unseen and unheeded" because this is an issue that deserves the negative attention.
Thomas Robert Malthus was a scholar who was influential in politics, economics, and demographics. He believed that society was withheld from becoming perfect because of the population growth. And with such rapid growth in population can only lead to societies downfall. Malthus is alluded to in chapter five when Sinclair states "there have been known philosophers and plain men who swore by Malthus in the books, and would, nevertheless, subscribe to a relief fund in time of a famine" (62). This shows that at the time, people agreed with his ideologies in the sense that an increasing population may lead to a famine with so many mouths to feed. But they also felt that those who are poor, like Jurgis' "poor old father", should be given some sort of aid.
Sinclair reveals several atrocities of the meatpacking district in chapter five. It is revealed that Antanas worked where the beef was prepared for canning. The vat in which the beef was pickled is constantly recycled after being dumped onto the filthy floors "and used over again forever" (65). Whatever scraps of meat an odd ends trapped in a pipe were shoveled out and put "into one of the trucks with the rest of the meat!" Jonas had acquired his job at the misfortune of another. Jonas had to push heavy iron trucks loaded with even heavier amounts of ham across uneven floors. These trucks were hard to keep control over and the "predecessor of Jonas" (66) was slammed and crushed against the wall by one of them. In Jurgis' profession of shoveling intestines,