Sinclair depicted the actions of thegoverning system as an argument towards socialism. The government’s inability toprovide tolerable working and living conditions was used to make a statement of theinhumanity which workers and families were put through. To convey the desperate vulnerability and isolation workers went through,Sinclair centers on an immigrant family whose economic problems are compounded bycultural dislocation. The families struggle to survive in Chicago served as the backboneof the story. The main character, Jurgis Rudkus, had a large family to support and couldhardly afford to pay for his daughter Ona’s wedding. Sinclair showed how capitalismcreated disintegrating pressures between his families life, cultural ties, and moral valuesthrough intolerable working and living conditions.
With “literally not a month’s wagesbetween them and starvation,” Jurgis, along with other workingmen were under pressureto abandon their families, and women had to sometimes choose between starvation andprostitution. The children had to go out to work or to beg before they could get anyschooling, and once out of the house they quickly picked up the habits of the street andthe values of the new society. Jurgis’s son was eaten by rats when he fell asleep in acellar where he worked. Even children were forced to hold jobs so they would not facestarvation.
Likewise, immigrants with peasant backgrounds, and even migrants fromAmerica’s own rural regions were especially ill-equipped to survive in the “urban jungle”because of their stubborn individualism. Jurgis relied on his own strong back to carry hisfamily, to cope with inhuman work; but he simply becames a gear in the industrialmachine, to be discarded as soon as he has shown signs of wear. Jurgis went throughmany tedious and strenuous jobs before being laid off so young and fresh workers couldtake his place. For periods of time he spent his days as a beggar, a scab, a hobo on theroad, and a petty criminal. Jurgis worked in a meat packing plant for a period of timeand was forced in to competitive individualism in order to keep his job and stay alive.
Atthe plant, a few men even fell into huge vats and were killed by the machinery. Hisfamily owned literally nothing and had to work in unsanitary conditions just to keep fromstarvation. In conclusion, the government’s inability to provide tolerable working and livingconditions was used to make a statement of the inhumanity which workers and familieswere put through. Near the end of the novel, Jurgis declared himself a socialist and felthe had found all the right answers to life in the big city. Sinclair uses this ending to statethe logic of his belief towards socialism. He created a governmental situation in whichthe lives of workers and immigrants were intolerable to portray the importance ofhumanity.
The situation creates a very effective statement and was a very creative idea.