The Jungle short answer take home test. Due Wed. Nov. 7
Please answer four of the following questions. Each answer should be a thoughtful and well constructed, typed paragraph. (At least 9-10 sentences).
Why or why not is Packingtown a modern version of chattel slavery?
How would you describe Sinclair's vision of The American Dream?
How is the industrialization process responsible for the degradation of workers?
The stockyards symbolize the plight of the common laborer, who is shuffled through the machinery of capitalism as a means to the end of corporate profit. Just as the stockyards are crammed with animals being herded to slaughter, so too are they packed with laborers systematically being destroyed by economic forces beyond their control. The factory owners have concern for the suffering of neither the animals nor the workers, viewing both as essential components of the meat-packing industry. In a sense, the laborers are nothing more than pieces of meat themselves—stripped of his identity, each laborer is merely a mass of muscles that, by helping the meat-packing plant run, factors into the general equation of consumption. Additionally, the crowded animal pens of the stockyards symbolize Packingtown’s crowded living quarters for workers. With almost no personal space or privacy for the individual, Jurgis and his family are dehumanized by their accommodations. Similar to an animal, Jurgis exists, from a severe capitalist point of view, only to carry out his function at the meat-packing plant.
In what ways does Sinclair depict capitalism as destructive? Consider the characters’ personal lives and social interactions.
Do you find Sinclair’s argument for socialism persuasive? Why or why not? How does Sinclair try to persuade the reading public to accept socialism?
The Jungle was one of the few works of art in American history to have a substantial and immediate impact on society. Does this social impact compensate for what some critics consider the novel’s aesthetic shortcomings?
Jurgis has a motto of "I will work harder." Does this attitude ever help Jurgis? Describe how. List at least two situations in which this positive attitude does not help Jurgis? Do you think this is a good motto to live by? Why or why not?
The title, "The Jungle," is certainly applicable to the story itself. Explain the different ways a jungle relates to the characters, to the setting, and to the events in this story. How is Chicago like a jungle? Do you agree that this title was the best choice? Why or...why not?