Walking Through The Jungle: Upton Sinclair Against Capitalism
AbstractAt the beginning of the 19th century, the American novel started exploring social themes and raising social problems. Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, which appeared in 1906, was a true sensation for American reading community. On the one hand, it described the outrageous practices of meatpacking industry prevalent at those times on the example of slaughterhouses in Chicago suburbs; on the other hand, it exposed the hapless life of American worker: the book showed what kind of suffering the worker experienced from his thankless work and poor living conditions. Sinclair hoped that the novel, which was avidly read both in America and abroad, would help improve the plight of American worker. However, to his disappointment, the government and society focused their attention exclusively on unhealthy meatpacking practices, which brought about necessary, but still superficial reforms, ignoring the main topic: the life of the common worker. Sinclair was labeled “a muckraker”, whereas he in reality aspired for the higher ideal of changing the existing social order, the thought expressed both in his novels and articles. The writer did not take into account that his ideas of non-violent, but drastic change of social order were alien for American society, for which capitalism was the most natural and acceptable form of functioning. The present article refers to the opinions of both American and non-American scholars to explain the reasons for the failure of Sinclair’s expectations, and, based on their views, concludes why such a failure took place.