Written in 1906 at the end of the gilded age in america. Gilded - to appear shiny, valuable, covered in gold, but really a thin veneer. No anti-monopoly laws lead to trusts, owned by robber-barons >wealthy, celebrated, glamourous people, but made money by exploiting the poor. Social darwinism >survival of the fittest in a social sense. Some are just more likely to be successful. Those who are meant to be rich are, and those who are weaker are not. So many immigrants that cities can"t keep up: slums, tenement housing etc. Social impact of the jungle and upton sinclair. For pleasure, we may want to know how relatable the author is to ourselves. Limits our reading and personal understanding of the text. Father"s family was once wealthy but lost it. Sinclair was very aware of both sides of the class scales. He was paid to work undercover in a slaughterhouse for 7 weeks.