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How does Sinclair demonstrate the evils of capitalism through events/descriptions?

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knoforever | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted January 22, 2012 at 12:11 PM via web

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How does Sinclair demonstrate the evils of capitalism through events/descriptions?

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

Posted January 22, 2012 at 6:55 PM (Answer #1)

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Sinclair demonstrates the evils of capitalism through various descriptions which address the fundamental idea that the ideal of capitalism is one in which people end up treating others as means to ends as opposed to means in of themselves.  Sinclair's exploration of this idea results in exposing how immigrants are treated, how workers are treated, and how food is prepared in the capitalist setting of America at the turn of the century.  From the most basic of points, Sinclair ends up showing how evil capitalism can be in displaying the results of when people are treated as means to ends, and not ends in of themselves.  The fact that immigrants are used as a ready supply of labor, able to be manipulated to work on the cheap and for long hours without anything in way of solidarity or empowerment reflects this.  It is this reason that Sinclair spends so long developing the cultural background of Jurgis and Ona, only to deconstruct it once they start working in capitalist America.  It is this reason why Sinclair spends so much time on discussion regarding the preparation of meat, for if the consumers are only viewed as means to an end in terms of profit, their food can be tainted and poor conditions can envelop its production.  In both, Sinclair is able to make a rebuke of capitalism because of his idea that the drive for material wealth is one in which producers view people as means to an end of profit and not something to be regarded as whole in way of a human being.  The ending of the novel in which Jurgis embraces socialism is more of an affirmation of the humanity that has been denied throughout the capitalist narrative.  In this, Sinclair is able to raise another dimension to capitalism.

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