How does Sinclair describe the plight of the immigrant? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one way in which Sinclair depicts the plight of the immigrant is by showing how much of a massive change the world in which America represents is from their own homeland.  Unlike the traditional depiction of immigration to the United States, Sinclair is open about the fact that this might not necessarily be the best of things.  Sinclair is able to depict the life of the immigrant as one caught within the machine of capitalism.  The description of the communitarian bonds of Jurgis' and Ona's wedding is one in which it becomes clear that this is not the life that they lead once they are in America.  Sinclair is able to show how the immigrant plight of believing that if one "works harder" like Jurgis does, they will succeed.  Sinclair shows the challenge in such thought for capitalism has established a system in the story as one that seeks to crush those who challenge it, appropriating the world in accordance to its own subjectivity.  Through such an understanding, Jurgis is able to forge the change needed to find a way in America where he is not a cog in the machine that destroys so much.  It is through this where I think that Sinclair is able to depict the plight of the immigrant as one where redemption and hope can still be possible, provided that one fully understands and is cognizant of the realities that exist within America.


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