Jurgis Rudkis, an young man, migrates to America from Lithuania in search of a better life along with his family. His family comprises of his father Antanas, his fiancée Ona, Ona’s stepmother Teta Elzbieta, Teta Elzbieta’s brother Jonas, Teta Elzbieta’s six children and Ona’s cousin Marija. They decide to settle down in the Meat Packing district of Chicago.
Initially, Jurgis is confident on working hard to keep the family happy and alive. Slowly, each member of the family is forced to take a job in order to survive. To add to the woes, accidents at work place lead to ill health of various family members. In order to survive, they have to force even the small children to work in inhumane conditions. Soon, their morality is at stake for survival.
Upton Sinclair is the author of this book. Sinclair tells the story of Jurgis, an young innocent Lithuanian who comes to America to pursue a dream. He gradually descends into hopelessness while trying to survive in a capitalist society. Sinclair writes the story from Jurgis’s perspective.
This is a protest novel, where in the protagonist faces hardships throughout the novel and finally, he comes across a key character who provides a solution. Sinclair is a proponent of socialism as evident in the concluding chapters. Sinclair uses the meat packing industry as a symbolism for American capitalism.
If you are a non-vegetarian, you will view the food differently after reading this novel. This is an intensive and emotional read. So, please do not pick this one for light reading!
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