Upton Sinclair: THE JUNGLE
prompts for The Jungle DUE: 11/26/12
The book starts out by describing how traditional Lithuanian culture was still being celebrated in
America. By chapter 3, we start to see what is in store for Jurgis and his family.
As you write your journal entries, try to describe the plight of the newly arriving immigrants. If there is more than one
prompt per chapter, just choose one to write about.
1) The immigrants to America
brought with them their traditions and culture. This was apparent during the wedding of Jurgis and Ona. During the ceremony
called "veseliya" guests were to help the bride and groom pay for the celebration of marriage. Describe the "veseliya" and
the stress it put on the bride and groom when they felt people were leaving without donating. How had a tradition turned into
a free meal for many of the attendees?
1) Can you imagine immigrating to a country without being able to speak their
language? The barriers created by not being fluent in English must have seemed insurmountable. The transition for Ona, her
family, and Jurgis seemed very difficult. Describe some of the experiences these people witnessed in their first few days
1) At the factories, the workers seemed like "zombies". They lacked empathy
for the animals and seemed unconcerned about the sanitary conditions. Interpret why the people would be called zombies and
in what way their lack of concern for the animals was apparent to the "newcomers" touring the factory. How did Upton Sinclair
portray the factory conditions these employees were working in?
1) Earning seventeen and a half cents an hour filled Jurgis' heart with joy.
Clarify why Jurgis was so excited about a job with such low pay. Specify the duties of Jurgis' job. Do you think you would
have the same feeling as Jurgis if you were in the same situation?
1) Everyone is expendable. If you get sick, or hurt, on the job there will be
someone to replace you in a second. Nearly everyone in Ona's family is employed and helping pay the bills. Describe the feeling
of self-worth that getting a job created. What about the people they were replacing, what happened to them?
Journal prompts for The Jungle
Nearly every one of these prompts dealt a
psychological blow to the workers. It was if they really had no way out of their situation. As you write your journal entries,
imagine how this sort of helplessness must feel. If there is more than one prompt per chapter just choose one to write about.
1) Immigrants and people working at the "packing house" were seen as expendable; very
little value was put on the lives of the workers by their employers. To the workers, their job was the only thing they had.
2) Immigrants were
taken advantage of, at every opportunity, by various people. Employees used the different nationalities/ethnic groups to draw
down the wages, because there was always someone to take your job if you didn't think you were being treated fairly.
3) By law, children
were not allowed to work until age 16. With little enforcement of this law, employers found it a good investment to hire young
kids. If kids were working, they weren't getting an education or learning English. These opportunities could help them rise
above being taken advantage of and get a better job.
1) Misery sets in. No heat in factories,
very little at home. The cold weather killed many and others, who were severely ill, found themselves out ofajob. "All the
year round they had been serving as cogs in the great packing machine, and now was the time for the renovating of it, and
replacing of the damaged parts." The annual harvest of those that were seen as holding back production took place.
1) A chance for a better life was in the butcher helpers union. You were expected to be on the floor
even if you didn't have any meat to process, but weren't paid unless you were processing meat. You might be on the job for
ten hours but only get paid for 2 hours. The terms "broken time" and "working for the church" were a common part of the workers
1) Dishonest businessmen would do anything to turn a buck even if that
meant poisoning someone with their concoction or selling putrid meat or other products.
2) Political machines ran many aspects
of society. People like Mike Scully gathered votes from the residents/workers around Packington, and delivered them to political
candidates. Mike was seen as "a people's man." Swindles and crimes were evident everywhere you turned, you couldn't trust
1) Lives revolved around money. You never caught a break and were always
on the brink of
starvation. You worried about losing your job, no matter how bad the job was. If
complained about being cheated you would probably lose your job.
for The Jungle
Nearly every one of these prompts
dealt a psychological blow to the workers. It was as if they really had no way out of their situation. As you write your journal
entries, imagine how this sort of helplessness must have felt. If there is more than one prompt per chapter, just choose one
to write about.
1) Misery returns: Jurgis felt he had conquered the enemy and
was now the master of his fate. After his accident he spent a great deal of his time worrying about his family and their financial
situation. He fears they may all die with no one to hear their cries or give them a hand up.
Jurgis was the first to abandon the family. Describe the financial and psychological impact this had on the family.
1) A person would do anything to pay the bills, even if this meant taking the "lowest mans job". What
must this have been like for Jurgis and Elzbieta (Teta).
1) They used everything of the pig,
except the squeal. This was also the case for spoiled and sour meat that was illegal to sell in Europe. It was sent to the
U.S. to be made into food products and resold worldwide. Ingenious inventions created many products that would have otherwise
been inedible .
1) After Connor raped Ona in the hallway after work, he threatened
to use his position and contacts to have all the members of her family fired if she reported this crime. He also used this
threat later to get her to go downtown with him on numerous occasions. This was another example of people using and abusing
the poverty stricken immigrants who had no way to defend themselves.
Journal prompts for The
Juris had his moment of gratification, but the result was misery for him
family. "Maddening procession of thoughts that lashed him like whips upon his naked back".
Explain this quote with regard to Jurgis' situation.
The inmates Jurgis met at the jail
were "swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by swindlers and thieves
of millions of dollars". Explain what Jurgis meant by saying this.
did Jurgis have when he was released from jail and returned to his home? What must this have felt like?
had ought to haf had a doctor, und not vaited so long." Describe how this was a situation that could not have been prevented
with Jurgis in jail and Marija with a cut hand. They barely survived muchless pay for a doctor.
for The Jungle
You may use one of these prompts
or write about something else that interests you.
1) In today's society it is noble
and courageous to risk life and limb to help a person in danger. For Jurgis and the other workers it was not worth the risk.
If you were injured while helping someone else, you risked everything.
2) Jurgis had two joys in life, his son Anatanas and the Sunday
paper. In some aspects, life was a lot simpler during the turn of the century.
attitude about working has changed. When Jurgis went to the country, he was offered many jobs working on farms for as much
as $1.00 a day plus room and board. He turns down these jobs, telling the farmers that he wants a job that will last all year
long, not one that discards him during the winter months. Jurgis later enjoys the life of a wandering tramp.
1) Describe the plight of Jurgis after he returns to Chicago. He felt like a "wounded animal in the
1) When Jurgis went to Freddie Jones' house he was exposed to the riches
that were a part of America that he had only heard about. This man and his family lived in extravagance while his workers
starved to death.
1) Jurgis had turned to a life of crime. "It's a case of us or
the other fellow and I say the other fellow every time."
Journal prompts for The
Chapters 26-31, Afterword (Test Essay Questions)
Jurgis was now living a comfortable life. He had a job working as a "scab" foreman on the killing floor and was making a good
wage. Describe more about his current life.
1) "…suddenly horrible discovery-Marija
a whore, and Elzbieta and the children were living off her shame!" Marija said "Ona could have taken care of us all, in the
beginning." Describe Jurgis' feelings about the plight of Marija. What did Marija mean by her statement about Ona taking care
1) A common theme throughout The Jungle was to prey upon the newest arrivals
before they learned the language and the culture of America. Identify how the young girls from abroad were treated by people
like the "madame."
1) Portray how the "Great Butcher" ran their business.
1) Jurgis was hired as a porter at a hotel/apartment building, but was really a spokesman for the Socialist
party. Interpret this part of Jurgis' job.
1) List and explain the two basic
Socialists "cut and dried program for the future civilizations." Be sure to describe how these programs would change a society
such as Packingtown.