Poverty In Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle Essay

Society today is pretty rough these days. We have 5. 1% unemployment rate, minimum wage isn’t enough to pay for all of you living expenses, The wealth and poverty gap is growing. Now in 2015 sounds like it’s a hard time to live in. Not even the worst of what we have now can compare to the conditions of the very early 1900’s. Most people waited days to get any job; minimum wage was not around this time, and some were lucky to make 4 dollars an hour (adjusted to inflation). What is thought of as poverty now would have been a life of luxury to 1900’s, more specifically, Jurgis an immigrant working man.

In The Jungle written by Upton Sinclair, Jurgis and his family suffer and experience hardships in almost every area of their lives. The most traumatic experiences for Jurgis and his family were the loss of many family members, the hardship of obtaining a safe job, and falling victim to swindling. One of the traumatic experiences Jurgis dealt with was the lost of many of his family members. Throughout the book many of Jurgis’ family members dies. Most of them died because of poor conditions they had to live through to survive.

Because they barely had enough money to buy a house as a family of 5 working members, they could never afford good food, a doctor, or any first aid supplies. After each family member’s death, he mourns the loss of them because he feels very strongly about his family, and to lose them is unbearable for him. Here are two quotes from the book showing the loss of some of Jurgis’ family members. #137″ He [Jurgis] stretched out his arms to her [Ona], he called her and wild despair a fearful yearning surged up and him …. But it was all in vain she faded from him she slipped back and was gone”. 152 “And then up in the Garrett he heard sounds of wailing, in Marija’s voice …. ‘what is it? ‘ he shouted.

And the old woman answered and weakly ‘it’s Antanas. He’s dead. He was drowned out in the street'”. These outside sources show the trauma that Jurgis experienced had after many of his family members died. In an article by WebMD about grieving stated that “It is possible to have unresolved grief or complications associated with grieving, particularly if you: Had several major losses in a short period of time. Lost someone very important in your life. You may feel that you will never get over the loss of someone special.

Experienced the unexpected or violent death of a loved one, such as the death of a child or a death caused by an accident, a homicide, or a suicide. Have special life circumstances that act as obstacles to grieving, such as having to return to work too soon after a death”. All of these happened to Jurgis in the book which would be a very traumatic. These sources and quotes show the extreme emotions that Jurgis had after many of his family members died in the harsh environment of The Jungle. One of the traumatic experiences Jurgis had was the difficulty he (and many others) had in obtaining a safe job.

Throughout the book, Jurgis struggles to find a job that is safe for himself. He makes less than $1. 50 (In 1906) a day, even if he’s an inch deep in animal blood or is feet away from falling and splashing molten steel. Even if they wanted to leave their job it would be harder for them to find a job than to just deal with the working conditions of the one they have now. The only work he can find that is safe is Out on a farm, but even then for only a day at a time during the harvest season which is not a real job. At the time there were no workers rights defending his working conditions and wage.

He was just a working man but he should have a living wage and working conditions that do not endanger his life everyday. Here are two quotes from the book showing Jurgis difficulty finding a safe job. #23 [After interview] “And that was all. Jurgis turned away … and started off in a run. He had a job! ” [little did he know in a infested slaughterhouse. ] #154 “Jurgis had first come to the stockyards he had been as clean as any workingman could well be …. he had given up washing in winter, and in summer only as much of him as would go into a basin. He had had a shower bath in jail, but nothing since.

These outside sources show the hardship that Jurgis (and many others had for finding a safe job), for most of Jurgis’ jobs he made somewhere around $1. 50 a day when inflation is adjusted today that is $36. 05 for a 8 hour work day. Today a minimum wage (in Illinois) is $66 for an 8 hour work day. Some of other examples of poor working conditions are “At a steel mill in Butler, Pennsylvania, a heavy pot of hot metal spilled molten steel onto wet sand, causing a huge explosion which destroyed part of the plant. Four men died and 30 more were injured.

The explosion shook buildings in the town and caused panic among the populace. ” and also “A young boy working in a coffin plant was decapitated and had both arms and both legs torn off when he was caught on shafting rotating at 300 revolutions per minute”. Lasty “In plain sight of a hundred fellow-workmen, Martin Stoffel was cut into small pieces at the Philadelphia Caramel Works”. These are only a fraction of the things that people let happen to their workers during the time of The Jungle. These outside sources and quotes show the struggle that Jurgis had for finding a job in the harsh environment of The Jungle.

One of the traumatic experiences Jurgus experienced was falling victim of swindling. Throughout the book, Jurgis and his family have been lied to, deceived and treated poorly by others by people who possess more knowledge or power than themselves. Because they are immigrants, they do not speak English or understand it very much, so people took advantage of that. Because their bosses are the ones who pay them the money they needed to live they would do almost anything to keep their job, even though the conditions were not desirable .

Many people found loopholes in the law or made deals with the police officers to make money or protect their business at the sacrifice of others. Here are two quotes from the book showing Jurgis and his family falling victim of swindling. #51″ ‘You say $12 a month; but that doesn’t include the interest. ‘ Then they all stared at her. ‘Interest! they cried. ‘Interest on the money you still owe,’ she answered. ‘But we don’t have to pay the interest! they exclaimed, three or four it once. We only have to pay $12 each month. ‘ And for this she laughed at them … They never sell the house without interest.

Get your deed, and you’ll see'”. P. 108 “Then she [Ona] began to whisper, one word at a time: ‘1–was in–a house– downtown–‘ ‘What house? What do you mean? [Jurgis]’She tried to hide her eyes away, but he held her. ‘Miss Henderson’s house,’ she gasped….. ‘Quick! Who took you to that place? ‘ She tried to get away, making him furious; he thought it was fear, of the pain of his clutch–he did not understand that it was the agony of her shame. Still she answered him, ‘Connor. Connor,’ he gasped. ‘Who is Connor? ‘ ‘The boss,’ she answered”. These outside sources show the scams that jurgis and others in his time had to deal with.

The House in the book was $1,500 but when adjusted to inflation it is around $40,000 (which is cheap but the house is also poorly put together). But their down payment is $300 (1903 money) and a monthly payment of at least $12 and an interest rate of $6 per month. If we adjust that to inflation that is around a $7,500 down payment, $300 a month, and $150 interest a month. It would take 100 months to pay the house off. In just the second month you are paying $600 (2015 money) a month, double what you started, and by the end you are payments you are paying 150,300 a month!

In The Chicago Daily Tribune On July 13 1900 There was an article stating “Johnson of the Kansas State Bureau gave the result of an investigation made by his office into the operation of money loaning through the chattel mortgage system. He found that the rate of interest change from 10 to 480 cents per (that means they are taxing you 48 times what they should be! ) These outside sources and quotes show the that jurgis had for finding a job in the harsh environment of The Jungle. As shown in The Jungle, Jurgis and his family have to work with all of the hardships in all of their ives.

The most traumatic experiences for Jurgis and his family were falling victim to swindling, the hardship of obtaining a job, and the loss of many family members. The Jungle was based on a true story with many others like it, but since then many big improvements of working conditions(of workers), laws, and food production have been made. While it might be true that in 2015 society has a lot to improve upon there are many things we have now and take for granted that we’re not around the time period of the early 1900s.