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In The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, how is life in the country compared to life in...

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star97 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 30, 2011 at 12:39 AM via web

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In The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, how is life in the country compared to life in Packingtown?

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

Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:51 AM (Answer #1)

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The city is shown to be a realm where injustice and brutal unfairness dominates all aspects of consciousness.  Jurgis' life in Packingtown is one whereby individuals who have economic power are able to determine right and wrong.  These individuals possess autonomy and are able to control all aspects of their being in the world.  For people like Jurgis, however, there is little hope for autonomy and for any sense of justice.  The challenging element, though, is that if one wishes to build and develop a life for themselves, they will have to move to the city because the rapid rise of industrialization and urbanization is making the city "the only game in town."  While there is a rural element in America, it is gradually becoming overtaken by the urban one as capitalism is an endless machine of growth and proliferation.  Jurgis finds some level of solace in the rural setting because of its wide open nature of freedom, and because it is not Packingtown. For a moment, Jurgis is reminded of his own humanity, being able to recollect life in Lithuania, which for him, seems like a lifetime ago, given what he experienced in Packingtown.  Yet, this is short lived, as he recognizes the need to make money and provide for himself, meaning that the city must be evident and back in his life.  In this, one sees that Sinclair is making the argument that there is no escape from the urban setting, and that its problems have to be addressed in some form or another.

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