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The Jungle Analysis Paper

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Recent United States History

Class Number 8469

March 2, 2005

The Jungle Analysis Paper

America, by the turn of the twentieth century, was regarded as the "Land of Opportunity," and lured thousands of immigrants. The foreigners that fled to the United States were in search of new lives; better lives. America was at the age of industrialization, and the economy was shifting from agriculture to factories. There were jobs in the factories available to un-skilled workers, which were the majority of the immigrants. And industrialists had no problem finding a way to exploit the workers lives.

The migration of Americans from farms to cities and the massive amount of immigration provided an abundant supply of cheap labor. Industrialists saw no economic sense in a hazardless workplace; an injured worker was easily replaced by another. Wages were kept low because there was always another worker willing to work for lower wages. The hiring of women and children as well as men created an excess supply of labor; leaving every worker commanding low wages.

Inadequate wages for workers forced all members of the family to work in the factories. Children as young as eight years old worked. Wages were paid hourly and there were few limits as to how many hours workers were allowed to work. A family's income was still low considering the amount of hours they worked. As a result, multiple families shared small apartments and living conditions were dismal. Most families rented their housing.

With the surplus of workers, factory owners were discouraged to maintain a clean and safe workplace. They were overly concerned with making profit; far more than the health of their workers. The cheaper the labor cost and the cost of sustaining a clean atmosphere; the more profit the owners would get. This led to a filthy and perilous working environment. The meat packing industry may have been the worst. It had high productivity, but its condition declined to the point of being hazardous to both the workers and consumers.

Upton Sinclair vividly depicts the harsh and hazardous conditions of the meat packing factories in his novel, The Jungle:

"There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand



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