How accurate are the horrible conditions potrayed in The Jungle as opposed to reality at the time?

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Unfortunately, the portrayal of the horrible conditions for workers plus the disgusting descriptions of the meat were absolutely accurate.  Sinclair published the first edition of his book on his own because no publisher would accept it; it was so shocking that they thought it had to be untrue.  When the book was published, the public was outraged though not so much about the workers' conditions as they were about the food.  The food descriptions of rats bundled in with the meat etc. lead to the 1906 Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act which eventually led to the federal Food and Drug Administration in 1930.  Sinclair had worked undercover at one of the meat plants to gather the information to show the plight of workers.  The descriptions of how workers were treated and abused are accurate also and eventually led to the rise of unions to try to protect workers and give them some rights.  The greed of the owners was obvious as was the disregard for human rights as, with the huge influx of unskilled workers at the time, there was always another worker looking for a job.  


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