FST 50 Chapter 1-45: Texbook notes on The Jungle
DepartmentFood Science & Technology
Course CodeFST 50
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APA Citations on All Books
Gottlieb, R., & Joshi, A. (2010). Food justice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Guthman, J. (2011). Weighing in: Obesity, food justice, and the limits of capitalism. Berkely:
University of California Press.
Mintz, S.W. (1986). Sweetness and power: The place of sugar in modern history. New York:
Sinclair, U. (2002). The jungle (C.V. Eby, Ed., A Norton critical ed.). New York: W. W. Norton
& Company. (Original work published 1906)
NOTE, Parenthetical citation: (Sinclair, 1906/2002, p. __)
Notes on The Jungle
(p. 7) Author wrote book after discovering socialism [and after the Packingtown
workers’ strike failed in 1904 (11)]. [Book was published by Doubleday, Page and
Company; author published his own edition under Jungle Publishing Company (11)].
(p. 8) The Jungle attacks capitalism, written in 1906, centering on Packingtown (a
section of southwest Chicago comprising stockyards, slaughterhouses, factories, and
cramped and filthy living quarters). [book is controversial]. Author relays harrowing
depictions of tenement life, prostitution, city graft, and saloons. He discusses the
treatment of the business ethic (specifically the “Beef Trust”) provides a lasting
testimonial against capitalist excess. Chicago’s Titans of Tenderloin such as Philip
Armour, Gustavus Swift, and Nelson Morris remain important to economic history
because of their oligopolistic collusion and for pioneering organizational structures and
work patterns that transformed manufacturing. James Barrett shows that the
meatpackers (NOT Henry Ford) established the moving assembly [disassembly line],
using conveyor belts to move carcasses before stationary workers repeatedly performed
the same tasks.
(p. 9) The Jungle galvanized public support for the Pure Food and Drug Act, a
watershed in consumer protection and government regulation that became law on June
30, 1906. The book brought the attention of an outraged public to contaminated food,
and the scandal shocked the world. However, the author had not intended to spotlight
contaminated meats. His concern was more about the workers than the products. He
exposed the horrors of factory work and the exploitation of laborers. He said, “I aimed
at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” The book is considered a
Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.
“muckraking text” and called the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery [in the unedited
version of The Jungle, author ended novel by comparing his work to Uncle Tom’s
Cabin, p. 12]. The author was condescending toward African Americans and other
(p. 8) Sinclair used a substantial portion of his earnings to found a utopian community,
but within a year, it burned down under mysterious circumstances.
(p. 10) The 1905 manuscript [the lost 1st Edition] of The Jungle was destroyed in the
Ch. 1 – The Jungle
Marija Berczynskas rides to the saloon for a wedding reception. [She is short with
brawny arms, but strong, Slavic; works in a canning factory handling 14-lb. cans of
beef daily (p. 11)] [Marija was an orphan, worked since childhood for a rich farmer of
Vilna, who beat her regularly. At age 20, she nearly murdered the man (p. 25)]. [Vilna
is the Russian name for Vilnius, largest city in Lithuania and its capital (p. 25)]]
Ona (age 15, blue eyes, fair-skinned; cousin is Marija) married Jurgis Rudkus (black
eyes with beetling brows and thick black hair that curled in waves about his ears). They
were one of those incongruous and impossible married couples. In immigrant
communities, back rooms of saloons were used as meeting halls for wedding receptions
and other activities. Ona’s reception was held in a saloon in Chicago known as “back of
the yards” [an overcrowded area, littered with filth and lacking adequate sewage, where
workers lived. In sight and smell of the stockyards and city dump, this section had the
highest death rate in Chicago].
Any onlookers who came sufficiently close to the saloon [the wedding reception being
held] or looked hungry was offered a chair and invited to feast. It was one of the laws
of the veselija [wedding feast, part of traditional Lithuanian celebration] that no one
The stockyards district of Chicago is where livestock was bought, sold, and
slaughtered. It is located in the southwestern area of the city, part of an industrial belt
that included railroad freight yards, the McCormick plant, and blast furnaces.
Aunt Elizabeth (Teta Elzbieta) is Ona’s stepmother. Author lists the various foods
served at the wedding reception.
Tamoszius Kuszleika taught himself to play the violin by practicing all night after
working all day on the “killing beds” [where livestock is slaughtered; Tamoszius has a
crush on Marija and they planned to marry, but never did due to finances; Marija later
moved from Packingtown to Chicago and became a prostitute].
Ona starts to cry.
Grandfather Anthony [Jurgis’ dad] is 60 years old, but looks 80, has lived in America
for 6 months. He used to work in a cotton mill, but started coughing and had to leave.
He’s been working in Durham’s pickle-rooms [preserving or pickling meats in brine or
vinegar remained common after the development of refrigeration; has to pay a graft
(fee) of 1/3 of his wages to get the job and keep it]. He had to breathe the cold, damp
air all day, every day he worked, which brought his cough back [later ended up dead
because of that].
Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.
Before stamping machinery, cans were painted by hand – mostly by women.
Milola is a beef-boner (doing piecework, a method of compensation – especially for
immigrant labor and women – where the worker is paid by unit produced instead of
time worked – intended to encourage rapid labor, but often results in accidents). Beef
boning is a dangerous trade where your hands and knife are slippery and can cause your
hand to slip onto the blade. The cut may heal, but there’s threat of deadly contagion.
Mikolas has been bedridden with blood-poisoning twice within 3 years. The last time,
he lost his job and had to go back to standing at the doors of the packing houses at
6AM in a foot of snow for 6 weeks. Packing houses are where animals are slaughtered
and prepared for curing, salting, and packing.
Men pay to dance with the bride. [book has great detail of cultural history]
Marija kept slamming the saloon door shut by kicking the door knob with her foot, then
accidentally slammed the door on a 3-year-old boy. She grabbed him, gave him kisses,
and offered him beer.
Author discusses Ona’s fears of how much the wedding has cost and how much more
the saloon-keeper would charge for the beer and alcohol, saying the keepers commonly
Men who had to crack the heads of animals for a living sometimes had a habit of doing
it to their friends and families.
Promptly at 7AM, everyone had to be in their places at Durham’s or Brown’s or Jones’,
each in his working clothes. If one is 1 min. late, he’ll be docked 1 hr. of pay. In the
serial version of the novel, author calls Chicago’s Big Three meatpackers (Armour,
Swift, and Morris) Anderson, Smith, and Morton. The Big Four includes the packer
Hammond, and Big Five includes Cudahy.
Workers more than 1 min. late were sent back to work the doors of the packing houses
from 6AM to nearly 8:30PM. There was no exception – not even for Ona, who was
refused to take off the day after her wedding without pay.
Jurgis carried Ona in his arms to their home 2 blocks away. He tells Ona not to work at
Brown’s that day and that he will work harder.
Jurgis had only been working in the stockyards for 4 months, and didn’t believe the
horrible stories of beatings – but, merely laughed.
Jurgis met Ona at a horse fair in Lithuania and wanted to buy her from her rich father,
but was refused. Her father later died, his estate was in debt, and the stepmom spent the
last penny to get out of the debt.
The twelve of them (five adults, teenaged Ona, and six children).
All this was “made” land – “made” by using it as a dumping ground for the city
garbage (the dump).
Jurgis got a job at Brown’s as a gut shoveler.
thru 35: talks about the cows, bulls, and hogs being huddled into chutes to be killed,
finally entering a room of no return.
Hogs were chained by one leg, then jerked up, kicking and squealing. The uproar was
appalling, perilous to the eardrums; one feared there was too much sound for the room
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