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Lecture 16

AMST 1154 Lecture 16: the jungle (3-29)

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American Studies
AMST 1154
Rabinovitz Lauren

3-29-2017 the jungle (1906) – Upton Sinclair If the Jungle was a movie…. Muckrakers • Early 20 century reformers • Investigative journalism • Exposed wretched conditions of poverty • Anti-big business, exposing greed & corruption • Term coined by Pres. Teddy Roosevelt early examples • Oil trust: The History of Standard Oil, by Ida Tarbell (1904) • Corrupt city politicians • Articles in McClure’s Magazine: started trend of muckraking journalism • Straightforward pieces of journalism Upton Sinclair • Went undercover in Chicago for 2 months in 1904 during bitter labor strike • Serialized fiction (rather than straightforward journalism) for Socialist magazine • Fiction: allowed for combing social criticism with fact reporting • Had to convince publisher to turn into a book (editor independently corroborated Sinclair’s findings). The Jungle • February 28,1906 3-29-2017 • Instant best-seller; overnight sensation • Copy sent to Pres. Roosevelt • Caused immediate investigations & call for legislative reform & oversight Consequences • Meatpackers fought back with series of articles • Congress passed important legislation on June 30,1906 Meat Inspection Act • Authorized Sec. of Agriculture to inspect livestock prior to slaughter • Diseased cattle need to be removed and slaughtered separately • Humane methods of slaughter • Examination of carcasses and meat post slaughter • Established sanitary standards for meat packers • Allowed Sec. of Agriculture oversight & regulatory power Pure Food & Drug Act • forbade manufacture, transport, or sale of tainted foods or patent medicines • made provision for labelling of contents • Outcry& reaction about food purity and safety • Less outcry about labor conditions • Less concern about exploitation of immigrant laborers Upt:” I aimed at the public’s heart and by accident hit its stomach.” The novel 3-29-2017 • Begins with Ona and Jurgis’ wedding • Lithuanian Why start with a wedding feast? Imagery “before the feast has been five minutes under way, Tamoszius Kuszleika has risen in his excitement; a minute or two more and you see that he is beginning to edge over toward the tables. His nostrils are dilated and his breath comes fast – his demons are driving him. He nods and shakes his head at his companions, jerking at them with his violin, until at last the long form of the second violinist also rises up. And this is their utterance; merry and boisterous, or mournful and wailing, or passionate and rebellious, this music is their music, music of home. It stretches out its arms to them, they have only to give themselves up. Chicago and its saloons and its slums fade away – there are green meadows and sunlit rivers, mighty forests and snowclad hills… Now and then one leaps up with a cry and calls for this song or that; and then the fire leaps brighter in Tamoszius’ eyes, and he flings up his fiddle and shouts to his companions, and away they go in mad career. The company takes up the choruses, and men and women cry out like all possessed…” In the middle “This is the fifth year, now, that Jadvyga has been engaged to Mikolas, and her heart is sick… He is a beef-boner, and that is a dangerous trade, especially when you are n piecework and trying to earn a bride. Your hands are slippery, and your knife is slippery, and you are toiling like mad, when somebody happens to speak to you, or you strike a bone. Then your hand slips up on the blade, and there is a fearful gash. And that would not be so bad, only for the deadly 3-29-2017 contagion. The cut may heal, but you never can tell. Twice now; within the last three years, Mikolas has been lying at home with blood poisoning – cone for three months and once for nearly seven. The last time, too, he lost his job, and that meant six weeks more of standing at the doors of the packing houses, at six o’clock on bitter winter mornings, with a foot of snow on the ground and more in the air. There are learned people who can tell you out of the statistics that beef-boners make forty cents an hour, but, perhaps, these people have never looked into a beef- boner’s hands.” It was a long, narrow room, with a gallery along it for visitors. At the head, there was a great iron wheel, about twenty feet in circumference, with rings here and there along its edge. Upon both sides of this wheel there was a narrow space, into which came the hogs at the end of their journey; in the midst of them stood a great burly Negro, bare-armed and bare-chested. He was resting for the moment, for the wheel had stopped while men were cleaning up. In a minute or two, however, it began slowly to revolve, and then the men upon each side of it sprang to work. They had chains which they fastened about the leg of the nearest hog, and the other end of the chain they hooked into one of the rings upon the wheel. So, as the wheel turned, a hog was suddenly jerked off his feet and borne aloft. At the same instant the car was assailed by a most terrifying shriek; the visitors started in alarm, the women turned pale and shrank back. The shriek was followed by another, louder and yet more agonizing – for once started upon that journey, the hog never came back; at the top of the wheel he shunted off upon a trolley, and went sailing down the room. And meantime another was swung up, and then another, and another, until there was a double line of them, each dangling by a foot and kicking in frenzy—and squealing. The uproar was appalling, perilous to the eardrums; one feared there was too much sound for the room to hold—that the walls must give way or the 3-29-2017 ceiling crack. There were high squeals and low squeals, grunts, and wail of agony; there would come a momentary lull, and then a fresh outburst, louder than ever, surging up to a deafening climax. It was too much for some of the visitors—the men would look at each other, laughing nervously, and the women would stand with hands clenched, and the blooded to their faces, and the tears starting their eyes. Meantime, heedless of all these things, the men upon the floor were going about their work. Neither squeals of hogs nor tears of visitors made any difference to them; one by one they hooked up the hogs, and one by one with a swift stroke they slit their throats. There was a long line of hogs, with squeals and lifeblood ebbing away together; until at last each started again, and vanished with a splash into a huge vat of boiling water. “It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was porkmaking by machinery, pormaking by applied mathematics. And yet somehow the most matter-of-fact person could not help thinking of the hogs; they were so innocent; they came so very trustingly; and they were so very human in their protests- and so perfectly within their rights! They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury, as the thing was done here, swinging them up in this cold
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