What is the main idea/thesis of The Jungle?

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thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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The main theme as laid down in Sinclair’s The Jungle is capitalism. He strives to vividly showcase the negative implications of capitalism by painting the mirage that is the American dream in contrast to the reality of wage slavery. Power and factors of production are held by a handful of people at the top who exploit workers for maximum economic gains. Jurgis and his family relocate to Chicago with a lot of hope and enthusiasm to work hard, acquire material wealth and earn a better life. This is however not to be as his family’s financial situation deteriorates following an endless series of tragedies including the death of his wife and children. The deplorable conditions continue to demoralize Jurgis until his encounter with socialism, a philosophy that stands for comradeship among the workforce. It is at this point that he learns about what capitalism is and its ripple effect on the structure of the society. Socialism is the remedy to counter capitalism.

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair in 1906, is about an immigrant family who comes to the United States from Lithuania in the hope of finding a better life. Although the family is optimistic in the beginning, they soon fall victim to all manner of misfortune. They are unable to find decent employment, competent medical care, or people they can trust. As a result they lose all their money and end up homeless. Some of the characters drift into criminal lifestyles including prostitution and drug use. The main character, Jurgis, finally finds hope at the end of the story. This hope is in the promising outlook of a socialist. Sinclair’s main idea then, is that the poor are generally unable to fight for themselves and are frequently victimized by the more powerful. They need a new political movement, in this case socialism, to rescue them from the dangers of free-market capitalism.

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