Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

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Pronounced “the

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

of wage slavery” by Jack London, Upton Beall Sinclair’s bestselling

The Jungle

ranks among the most influential and enduring pieces of American social protest fiction. Adapting the journalistic approach of earlier muckraking exposés such as Jacob Riis’s

How the Other Half Lives

(1890) and Lincoln Steffens’s

The Shame of the Cities


The Jungle

traces the inevitable demise of Jurgis Rudkus and his family – poor Lithuanian immigrants whose American Dream is viciously crushed by the predatory capitalist environment of Chicago’s meatpacking industry. Shifting from a documentary style to blunt didacticism, the last third of the novel chronicles the rebirth of Jurgis as a proletarian hero, who finds salvation in socialism.


2713 words

Citation: Piep, Karsten. "The Jungle". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 January 2011 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=458, accessed 21 June 2024.]

458 The Jungle 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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