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The Jungle
June 12, 2010 Explore the Vault

  • Sumo

Last week, I re-read my article on Upton Sinclair and The Jungle. It appeared in the Wall Street Journal four years ago. On Tuesday, after the Journal published my article on O. Henry, I mentioned Sinclair in a post about O. Henry on The Corner. This led to an exchange in the comments section of a page on this website.

From my concluding graf on Sinclair:

If he had lived a little longer, Sinclair might have had some second thoughts about the ideas he expressed in “The Jungle.” Capitalism has served the huddled masses rather well. The descendents of Sinclair’s exploited workers don’t toil on the kill floors of meatpacking factories. Instead, they occupy better jobs as fully assimilated Americans. They also eat safe meat, processed for them by a new generation of immigrant laborers from Latin America and Southeast Asia — people whose lives are no doubt challenging, but also full of the realistic optimism that one day they will be no longer tired, no longer poor, and breathing free. Sinclair’s problem was that, unlike them, he couldn’t see the jungle for the trees.

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