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Essays and criticism on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book - Critical Essays

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By the time The Jungle was published at the turn of the century, the massive flow of poorer European immigrants into the United States over the previous half-century had changed the demographics of American cities. Many of these immigrants lived in overcrowded, run-down tenement buildings with no access to clean water or proper sewage systems. Having come to America looking for work opportunities, the immigrants provided a cheap source of labor for American factories and businesses. As Sinclair, a self-proclaimed socialist, saw it, millionaire businessmen were building up huge fortunes by exploiting their immigrant workers.

Sinclair wrote an essay challenging the union to do something after it had lost its protest

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The early twentieth century was a wild, wild time – though we can't immediately think of a time in American history that has been calm. Still, even by rowdy American standards, the first few years of the last century were crazy. was lucky enough to ride this wave of national dissatisfaction with the status quo straight to literary success. His novel The Jungle, an exposé of the meatpacking industry, became an enormous bestseller translated into seventeen languages within weeks of its publication in 1906. But while The Jungle has long been associated with food production (and its disgustingness), the book is actually a much broader critique of early twentieth-century business and labor practices in the rapidly growing cities of the United States.

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From the use of diseased cattle as sausage meat to the processing of people who fall into rendering tanks as lard and fertilizer, it's fair to say that the nation was revolted to learn what actually went into their canned beef and processed hams. scoffed at Sinclair's socialist idealism, but he also wrote personally to Sinclair to promise that there would be an investigation of poor sanitation and hygiene inside meatpacking plants (). Further, Roosevelt kept his word: it was partly public outcry over The Jungle that led to the passage of the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, the precursor to today's Food and Drug Administration (). So finally, the United States had federal control over what could go into meat products (healthy beef and pork) and what had to stay out of them (people).

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