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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Society and Class

The Jungle has a socialist agenda. "Society" is in the word "socialist," so it makes sense that perhaps the most important theme in this novel is society and class. Sinclair is writing against the...

Suffering

There are people in The Jungle who try to alleviate other people's suffering. There is that settlement worker who weeps with Teta Elzbieta over her horrible family life and then gets Jurgis a job a...

Power

So, in 1776, the United States declared its independence from Britain. We saw King George III as a tyrant and a bully, so we were like, later, guys. What's interesting is that the American Revoluti...

Visions of America

We've already talked about the American Dream in "Society and Class," but that's not the only American ideal that Sinclair criticizes in The Jungle. There is also the melting pot: Jurgis and his fa...

Poverty

There's a lot of poverty in The Jungle – it's a novel about economic exploitation, after all. Still, the interesting thing about Sinclair's approach to poverty is that he does not let his clear f...

Foreignness and the 'Other'

The Jungle opens on a traditional Lithuanian wedding celebration, the veselija, which is being held in the back room of a Chicago Packingtown saloon. Both of these things – Lithuanian celebration...

Language and Communication

The Jungle is a passionate plea for the reader's compassion in light of the injustices that ruin the lives of Chicago's poor slum residents. So language is extremely important: Sinclair is using wo...

Gender

Even though women were an incredibly important part of the early American socialist movement, there are surprisingly few strong-minded female workers in The Jungle. Maybe even none. Jurgis definite...
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