Corruption Of The West Essay, Research Paper
Fifty years ago America was in mortal fear. Russia had the bomb and we were pretty confident in their want to use it. This was all the result of the struggle between the greedy Capitalist pigs and the idealistic Socialist swine. What many don t know is that this struggle is not just new to the past fifty years, it can be traced back to the beginning of the twentieth century, where it seemed, at least on the surface, as a wonderful time to be living in Capitalist America. This period, in memory, seems to optimize the modern man living the American dream. But memories can be deceiving. In the early 1900 s our Capitalist economy seemed to be the precedent for success, but as Upton Sinclair would go on to illustrate in his classic novel The Jungle, the pitfalls of the Capitalist society and the Capitalist means, far out way the eventual ends.
During this period in American history, we as a country had seen the end of our American dream. We saw its flaw during the civil war, in the difference of one races right to be treated equally. We saw its flaw in the massive increase of immigration and immigrant poverty, when we realized that no matter how self sufficient and individually successful we as a country were, our contact with the other nations of the world would always destroy our dream for happiness. Thousands were coming to this global melting pot, some seeking fortune, others just seeking easier times, but all seeking a better life. What they found on the other hand were brutal industrial towns and the cruel realization that not everyone in America is successful, but they were stuck here regardless and hardened and soon stripped of any hope of this dream ever coming true.
Immigrants had always heard stories of former friends or family going to America and getting rich. Upton Sinclair uses the story of Jurgis Rudkus and Ona Lukoszaite leaving Lithuania to be successful in the land of promise. Jonas, Ona s step-uncle, supposedly knows someone in America from Lithuania who had gone there and gotten rich. Knowing only this little bit of possibility, Jonas convinces Ona and the rest to travel to America to do the same. Thus the saga begins. Idealistic and hopeful the ragtag bunch make their way to America and almost instantly are slapped by the hand of the Capitalists they are coming among. They were cheated by the travel agent assisting them in their journey to this generous land, and then ripped off upon their arrival by the hotel owner while trying to find a place to spend their first night in this land of plenty. These first two instances set the atmosphere for the book, illustrating how time and time again these pitiful, na ve souls would be taken advantage of, yet, for the longest time they remain resilient, refusing to allow some mishaps destroy their hopes and dreams. But they realize that though the family was not well to do in Lithuania, they were able to feed themselves and even save some money. The constant worrying about money and survival in Packingtown is torture, wearing them down mentally and physically and changing their personalities.
Packingtown, the heart of the Chicago meat industry, exemplifies the evils of the Capitalist Company in the early 1900 s. The description of the horrid working environment indicates Sinclair s opinion of what the companies thought of their employees. Describing the killing floors, Sinclair says This floor was half an inch deep with blood, in spite of the best efforts of men who kept shoveling it through holes (Sinclair 39). Along with working in unhealthy conditions, the Packingtown workers were forced to do their jobs in unsafe conditions as well. Speaking of old Antanas, and his work place, he worked in a place where his feet were soaked in chemicals (Sinclair 76). All throughout the story, Sinclair uses the theme of industrial disregard for its employees. The above examples along with the many, many others show how the means of production, as Carl Marx would have called it, gave no care to the proletariat, only the product. Disillusioned with his situation, Jurgis seeks the comradely of the Union. In it he finds a brotherhood, a sense of belonging. Through these channels Socialism becomes part of Jurgis vocabulary. Fueled by this disillusionment, Socialism offers a breath of fresh air, a light at the end of the tunnel, opposition to all of this abuse he and his family have dealt with from the very beginning of their American experience, and opposition to the system that lead to their demise.
Aside from the lack of care for the worker, the industries displayed a total disregard for public health and quality production. The food produced in Packingtown was, for lack of a better term, nasty. How could they know that the pale-blue milk that they bought around the corner was watered, and doctored with formaldehyde, (Sinclair 75)? Stories of the use of bleach or other dies in the spoiled meet to make it look healthy were commonplace in Packingtown. But Elzbieta’s experiences in the sausage factory are by far the worst. Scraps of rotten meat rejected everywhere else find their way into the sausages. So do poisoned rats, rat dung, poisoned bread, spit, consumption germs and the contents of the sausage room waste barrels. James Woodress states that this novel is better judged as propaganda than as literature, accusing Sinclair of heightened stories and observations, and exaggerated tails of what really went on inside the packing plants, only to get across his idea of the industrial ignorance. This lack of care reaches its pentacle when baby Antanas drowns in the street. Two seemingly unrelated events, correlate in the lack of care theme. The family lived in the suburbs of Packingtown, and this Packingtown has taken virtually everything. After Ona s death, Jurgis is left with nothing but little Antanas, and when he is taken by the street, Jurgis runs, finding him self fed up and done with this whole Capitalist system that has showed no care for him but rather for his money, and when it had sucked him dry, it then seemed to go for the juggler, and Jurgis had had enough.
Finally, as if the corrupted, capitalist industries were not enough to handle, the family had to contend with the corrupted individuals, and in a sense this was harder. One could always be suspect of a corporation, because it s reason for existence is to turn a profit, but when interacting with people, there s always an element of trust, but this trust is completely abandoned when money is the individual s center of attention. Some of the hardest blows taken by the family had to do with their purchasing of a house. Not that they were in the most initially devastating of conditions, but rather, the true start of their financial burden started here. After gaining the trust of the realtor and a lawyer to check over the deed, the family purchased their home in good faith, only to find that both of their trusties had ripped them off, and that they would be attempting to, but never would. Recover from this scam until the house would have to be left all together. As a result of the struggle for this financing Ona died, Antanas died, and Jurgis broke from a strong confident workingman, with the life creed of, I will work harder , to a week, impressionable man, running from all the problems he so naively walked into.
Besides the corrupted real-estate business, The Jungle illustrates a general corruptness of man. A general lack of sympathy for the common and down trodden, and a general focus of greed that is this Capitalist America. The women of the story are forced into sexual exploitation. Ona hides her infidelity from Jurgis for obvious reasons, but still resolves to the trade to make ends meet. The story uses these types of examples to show how Capitalism births Capitalists. Ona was by no means a Capitalist, why then would she resort to prostitution as a means for money. Because in a society that gives no care to the means for making money, the individuals that wish to succeed or even in some cases just survive, must give no care to their means for making money.
A Critical Essay of this novel on the topic of anti-Capitalism cannot be written without talking, at least in part, about Socialism. Just as a Critical Essay of this novel on the topic of Socialism cannot be written without talking, at least in part, about anti-Capitalism. Jurgis, by the end of the novel was a Socialist. He becomes debase and then, in accordance with Sinclair s own creed, turns to Socialism as a way out, (Benet s 1). This novel cannot be read objectively, simply because it was not written objectively. Sinclair new what he was writing when he wrote it. The novel s industrial revelations, that have deemed it as a social eye opener to the horrid practices of the industries, are merely an illustration of the negatives of their Capitalist ways. Sinclair was above everything a reporter, so the eloquently disturbing images of the plants were simply his observations that he made while spending time in these settings. To make these images the main focus of the novel, would do such an injustice as making the sign, This is Jesus, The King of the Jews the main focus of Christ s crucifixion on the cross. Sinclair used these images not as scare tactics to wake up the American consumer, though they did, but as the evidence to evils of Capitalism. As evidence to the selfishness of Capitalism. As evidence to the greed and human ignorance of Capitalism.
Whether The Jungle is truly exceptional, accurate reporting or simple exaggerated Socialist propaganda lined with utopian rhetoric, only Sinclair, and those unfortunate souls who actually had to wake up every morning to the hell that was Packingtown, will know. The one thing that is for certain however is that The Jungle was effective. It opened America s eyes to the flaws in our economic base. It awoke us to the morning of the end of our greedy American dream, the care for the unfortunate, that wouldn t really culminate until the Great Depression, when it took not only the immigrants to be homeless, but real Americans as well. But the book made sense, which was the scariest aspect of it. It was scary that someone could take such injustice, and verbalize it comprehensively enough, for the common man it was portraying to understand. Through this comprehension came the proletariat embrace of Socialism. The embrace of the closing rhetoric of Chicago will be ours! Chicago will be ours! Chicago will be ours! (Sinclair 346). But more important than the comprehension of novel, is the application of the newly gained knowledge to life. L.S. Dembo warns that An important point is easily overlooked in the flow of rhetoric: revelation is only the first step in a Socialist education; it must be followed by hard study and experience (Dembo Computer).
The Jungle takes a time in American history that would normally be looked back upon in pride, and creates suspicion and forces America to reevaluate its standing philosophies. The Jungle rejects everything about this philosophy of Capitalism for its total disregard of the people it incorporates. The Jungle condemns the Capitalist society for corrupting its inhabitants, forcing them to adopt its ways; it s practices in order to simply get by in everyday life. Sinclair uses the demise of a Lithuanian couple to illustrate the tail of Capitalism. Like Capitalism, the story of the family started with extreme Joy, and ends in severe sorrow. It begins with the beautiful marriage of a young idealistic couple and ends in the death of Ona and Antanas, and the destruction of Jurgis individual character. Thus exemplifying Capitalism s ability to seem appealing on the outside, but really being ugly and evil on the inside. Sinclair does a wonderful job of portraying how money can corrupt. How in a money driven society, all innocence is lost and trust never existed in the first place.