Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle: Muckraking the Meat-Packing Industry

To shed light on the deplorable circumstances in the meatpacking industry, Upton Sinclair published The Jungle.

His account of rotten, diseased, and tainted meat horrified the public and ultimately resulted in stricter federal regulations on the quality of food sold in the United States.

There was a significant reform movement in the United States just before the turn of the twentieth century.

Upton Sinclair's The Jungle: Muckraking the Meat-Packing Industry

The progressive reformers of the time were in response to issues brought on by the rising urbanisation and industrialization of the economy.

At initially, progressives focused on reducing poverty and eliminating government corruption in poor neighbourhoods.

As the new century began, progressives began targeting large firms like Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, and the Armour meat-packing company for their allegedly unfair business dealings.

The progressives exposed the firms’ practises of stifling rivals, charging excessive rates, and treating their employees like “wage slaves.”

What Is Upton Sinclair’s Purpose In The Jungle

Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle to shed light on the inhumane methods used to slaughter animals for the processing business in Chicago.

Yet what troubled him the most was the treatment of people who worked in the meat packing sector.

Sinclair’s story opened with a wedding, where we met the protagonist, Jurgis Rudkus, and his Lithuanian family.

With the hope of a better life for his family, Jurgis immigrated to the United States during the era of capitalism.

“economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit rather than by the state.”

According to the dictionary definition of capitalism. The poor are left to barely survive in a system designed for the wealthy.

The Jungle and the Meatpacking Industry at the Turn of the Century

Let’s say you have strong opinions on a social topic. You wish to bring focus to this matter, but are at a loss as to how to do it.

Good thinking, there. So as to bring this matter to light, you have decided to create a book—a novel.

This kind of thinking is what led Upton Sinclair to release The Jungle in 1906. The book wasn’t released until 1906, but the serial appeared in a socialist journal in 1905.

Young journalist Sinclair cared deeply about the conditions in which poor immigrants were living in the United States. The circumstances in meatpacking plants really worried him.


In many ways, Sinclair was a writer who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Since this is the case, “The Jungle” heavily relies on and draws elements from American history.

At the turn of the century, a time of great change in science and administration, Sinclair penned his novel.

Sinclair’s novel (and its success) were affected by a number of external events, including industrialization, awful working conditions, and progressive movements.