How did the book, "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair change the world?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sinclair's work had profound effects on both American society, as well as implications throughout the world.  Writing at the zenith of American Industrialization, Sinclair depicts a fictional work that has so much relevancy that its impact cannot be denied.  The fact that it honors the contributions of working individuals to the American fabric of society is noteworthy.  At a time when wealthy industrialists and profiteering individuals seemed to garner the most amount of attention, Sinclair's desire to give voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless helped carve out the class based antagonism that went on to play a major and definitive role in the 20th Century.  The work brought to light the idea that capitalism, at its most elemental, possesses the capacity for dehumanization and a setting where individuals suffer greatly under the weight of material acquisition.  The fact that Jurgis and his family are relegated to an object status, no more valuable than the cattle that are slaughtered, went very far to articulate the condition of workers in many industrial settings at the time.  The idea of workers' rights was not a concept fully embraced at the time, and Sinclair was quite passionate in seeking to describe this particular narrative.  Again, workers' rights is a theme that has worldwide implications throughout the history of the 20th century, and Sinclair played a formative role in helping to define it.  Finally, I would suggest that the book's calling into question mass consumption habits and seeking to probe what is produced and how it is made has been critical to the development of factory safety and food preparation throughout the 20th century in both America and abroad.