Friday, 6 August 2010

The Jungle ~ Upton Sinclair

If you’re a little frightened by the cover of this book you’re not alone. It took me several seconds to realize what the red “thing” was: a piece of meat. But that’s what this story centralizes on--the Chicago meat-packing district in the early 20th century.

Throughout the book we follow the life of Jurgis and his family. They are immigrants to the U.S., coming here in pursuit of that ever elusive American Dream. Looking for work in NY, they are urged to travel inland to Chicago and find jobs at the huge slaughter houses. Jurgis takes this advice, and soon he and his family are caught in the trap of slaving away for the giant companies who do nothing but work them all to their literal deaths. And the reader gets to read about the corruption within the business and the swindling that most of the immigrants fell prey to as well. The story highlights one misery after another that Jurgis endures until finally the tale turns into a political advertisement for Socialism.

This famous novel brought about laws and changes to the way our food was handled in the U.S. Some of the things that were done to consumable food would turn your stomach. I have a very difficult time reading and watching human misery stories, and this book was full of it! It seemed like an endless trial for poor Jurgis, and sadly, his dealings were true to life of what many people who worked in that industry experienced. That made it all the more difficult to read. I was determined to finish the book, but I would never read it again. It’s one of those tomes that you read once and that stays with you for awhile afterwards. Not sure if I’d recommend reading it or not.

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