How is the title of Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle appropriate to the content of the book?

Expert Answers
vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title of Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle is appropriate to the book in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Just as many works set in jungles involve visitors from other lands, so the same is true in Sinclair’s novel. The main characters of the book are not originally from Chicago but instead migrate there from Europe.
  • Just as people who visit a jungle must quickly adapt themselves to their new environment if they hope to survive, so the same is true of the main characters in this book.
  • Just as living conditions in a jungle are often primitive and dangerous, so the same is true of many of the living conditions depicted in this book.
  • Just as the physically strongest tend to survive in a jungle, so the same is true in Sinclair’s book.
  • Just as life in a jungle often consists of extreme brutality and violent death, so the same is true in this book.
  • Just as death can come in many ways and in many forms in a jungle, so the same is true in this novel.
  • Just as a jungle may seem exotic and exciting at first but can often later prove dangerous and even lethal, so the same is true of life in Chicago for many of the immigrants Sinclair depicts.
  • Just as it is easier for humans to survive in a jungle if they band together and cooperate than it is if they try to operate as isolated individuals, so Sinclair suggests that the same is true of survival in large industrial cities.
  • The deaths suffered both by humans and by animals in real jungles can be relentlessly brutal. So, unfortunately, are the deaths suffered especially by the animals in Sinclair’s book.  In one passage, for instance, the narrator describes the “horrid Fate” of a hog about to be butchered in a meat factory:

Now suddenly it [the “horrid Fate”] had swooped upon him, and had seized him by the leg. Relentless, remorseless, it was; all his protests, his screams, were nothing to it – it did its cruel will with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and watched him gasp out his life.

One needn’t have watched very many documentaries about animals hunting animals in real jungles to recognize the similarities between their deaths and the death of the hog described here.