The Jungle | Study Guide

Upton Sinclair

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Check out this Infographic to learn more about Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Study visually with character maps, plot summaries, helpful context, and more.

Artboard 1Narrator, Chapter 14hey were beaten; they had lost the game, they were swept aside.Sources:, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Food and Drug Administration, Gilder Lehrman Institute,, PBSCopyright © 2016 Course Hero, Inc.The Jungleby the NumbersWeeks Sinclair worked undercover in Chicagos meatpacking plants7Languages into which The Jungle was translated within a few months of publication17Percentage of votes Sinclair received in losing the California gubernatorial election in 193437A socialist seeking to expose the terrible working conditions of immigrants, Sinclair went undercover in Chicago's meatpacking district in 1904. Using this firsthand knowledge, Sinclair self-published The Jungle to widespread acclaim and outrage that helped inspire a meat inspection law and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.In the decades before World War I, many writers sought to expose injustice in business, government, or society. The term muckraking was used to describe their exposés, and although it was partially an insult to journalists who "sifted through the muck," it was also a point of pride. Famous muckraker Ida Tarbell decried the corruption of the oil industry, Lincoln Steffens vilified New York politicians, and Edwin Markham denounced child labor.UPTON SINCLAIR1878–1968A Lithuanian immigrant family chases the American dream in the meatpacking district of Chicago at the turn of the 20th century, hoping hard work will create a better life. As The Jungle unfolds, however, the family is slowly destroyed by the evils of capitalism, as Packingtown affects each of them differently.Victims of CapitalismMAIN CHARACTERSOna LukoszaiteJurgis's frail but optimistic wifeRaped; dies in childbirthAntanas RudkusJurgis's sonSymbol of hope for the future; drowns in mudMarija BerczynskasOnas strong-willed cousinBecomes a drug-addicted prostituteDede Antanas RudkusJurgis's fatherExploited; dies from working conditionsJurgis RudkusHardworking immigrant Chases the American Dream but becomes disillusionedTeta ElzbietaOnas stepmotherRemains strong despite many lossesJonasTetas brotherConvinces family to go to America but abandons themMotifsAuthorMuckrakingImmoralityIn a corrupt world, Jurgis and his victimized family must become immoral to survive.Social DarwinismUnder capitalism, only the strong survive; the weak are discarded.Family ValuesThe family clings to traditions in a world that values individuals over the group.NEWSThemesAmerican DreamJurgis and his family come to America naively and become disenchanted after horrific losses.Futility of TryingNo matter how hardworking and honest immigrants are, they remain poor and oppressed.CapitalismSinclair saw capitalism as the root of all evil.Upton Sinclair1906EnglishNovel AuthorYear PublishedOriginal LanguageThe JungleDrama

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