Upton Sinclair's The Jungle as the Link Between Media and Citizens

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Muckraker Upton Sinclair was born in Baltimore in 1878 to an old Virginian family. The Civil War had mostly cleared out the family's riches and land property leaving them in a lower socioeconomic class standing. Because of this, Sinclair's dad turned into a voyaging alcohol sales rep and alcoholic while his mom looked after the family. Sinclair’s mother hoped for him to turn into a clergyman but what the future had in store was much more rewarding. When he was 10, Sinclair's family moved to New York City where he went to school. While going to Columbia University, he started to appeal his stories to local magazines. He spent significant time specializing in western, experience, sports, and war-saint fiction for the common labor class worker.

Sinclair received his degree from Columbia in 1897, and after three years in the labor force he met his wife Meta Fuller. It was at this point in his life that Sinclair started to compose books, yet he experienced issues getting them distributed. As he was battling to bring home the bacon as an author, he started delving into the world of socialism and it was from there that he found his passion. He joined the Socialist Party in 1903, and after a year he started to compose for Appeal to Reason, a socialist magazine. In 1904, the meat-packer's association in Chicago took to the streets, protesting for better wages and working conditions. ‘The Big Four’ organizations broke the strike and the association by getting strikebreakers and firing those protesting. The newly hired laborers kept the sequential construction systems running while the strikers and their families fell into destitution. Sinclair, at age 26, went to Chicago to look into the strike and the conditions endured by the meat-pressing laborers. He talked with them, their families, legal advisors, specialists, and social laborers. He by and by watched the horrifying conditions inside the meat-pressing plants and determined that something had to be done.

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The Jungle is Sinclair's fictionalized record of Chicago's Packingtown, the title mirrors his perspective on the severity he found in the meat-pressing business. The story focused on a young adult, Jurgis Rudkis, who had moved to Chicago with a gathering of relatives and companions from Lithuania. With hope and wishful thinking of a better life, Jurgis went to work as a 'shoveler of guts' at 'Durham,' an anecdotal firm mirroring Armor and Co., the main Chicago meat packer. Before long, Jurgis noticed the abusive work conditions that the employees faced and found that Armor and Co. duped laborers by not paying them anything for working almost an hour. Also, Jurgis saw men in the pickling room with skin infections, lost fingers, and men who pulled 100-pound hunks of meat injured their backs; Laborers with tuberculosis hacked continually and spit blood on the floor; Directly beside where the meat was handled, laborers utilized crude toilets with no cleanser and water to clean their hands; In certain zones, no toilets existed, and laborers needed to pee in a corner; Break rooms were uncommon, and laborers ate where they worked. Sinclair incorporated a section on how ailing, spoiled, and tainted meat items were prepared, doctored by synthetics, and mislabeled to be purchased to the general population. He wrote of how laborers would process dead, harmed, and infected creatures after standard hours when no meat reviewers were near. He clarified how pork fat and meat scraps were canned and named as chicken. Besides the grotesque details of the meat itself, the employees faced horrible conditions. In the novel, Jurgis endured a progression of awful disasters that started when he was harmed on the mechanical production system. No compensation for these injuries existed, and the business was not to answer for individuals harmed at work. Jurgis' life self-destructed, and he lost his significant other, child, house, and occupation which was a true story for many laboring families occupied in the meat packing industry. Of course, when the public delved into this story of contamination and disgusting conditions, they were shocked and horrified.

The Jungle turned out to be an international best seller by 1906 with sales skyrocketing, this book was published in 17 languages. A famous quote of Sinclair’s was “I aimed at the publics heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” He said this out of disappointment in the fact that while meat sales plummeted, there was no change in sentiment about the harsh working conditions put on employees. While Sinclair thought of himself as a novelist rather than a muckraking investigative journalist, The Jungle became one of the greatest known muckraking works of the Progressive Era. While the White House was being constantly provoked because of these newly exposed issues, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Sinclair to meet with him and discuss his novel. After learning of the horrendous conditions, Roosevelt appointed a special commission to investigate the slaughterhouses of Chicago. Soon after the commissioners arrived at the slaughterhouse, they were able to confirm all of the gruesome horrors that Sinclair had told of.

President Roosevelt called the conditions uncovered in the special commission's report 'revolting.' Roosevelt conquered meat-packer restraints and pushed through the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. The law approved overseers from the U.S. Branch of Agriculture to stop any awful or mislabeled meat from entering interstate and remote trade. This law incredibly extended central government regulation of private venture, and Upton Sinclair is to thank. Sinclair didn't care for the law's guideline approach. Consistent with his socialist feelings, he favored meat-pressing plants to be publicly owned, as was ordinarily the situation in Europe. Roosevelt marked a law controlling nourishments and medications on June 30, 1906, the day he marked the Meat Inspection Act. The Pure Food and Drug Act controlled added substances and denied deceiving naming of nourishment and medications. This law prompted the development of the government Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These two 1906 laws wound up expanding shopper trust in the nourishment and medications they obtained, and as a result these organizations profited. So, it would be fair to say that Sinclair’s call for reform benefitted the general public and meat packing companies that were previously conducting wrong business.

The significance that The Jungle held in society then and today is intangible and overwhelming. By using his investigative journalism skills, Sinclair brought about a new relationship between citizens and media. For the first time ever, people in America were met with a sense of awareness of what was going into their food. The impacts of Sinclair are huge, besides the obvious impacts in policy change in the U.S. he was an inspiration for many journalists to come.

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