The Jungle

US History Spring 2010


Discussion/Quiz:  2/3; Paper Due 4/26


This paper should include your responses to the book The Jungle.    Sean will be handing out a more specific set of instructions for the paper over the book.


Hint:  for the quiz, you should be able to identify the following characters:  Antanas, Dede Antanas, Phil Connor, Jack Duane, Teta Elzbieta, Tommy Hinds, Jurgis, Ona, Mike Scully, Stanislovas


The quiz over the book will be the first 15 minutes of class on the date of the discussion.  The quiz will be open note and open book.  Students may use any handwritten (not photocopied or typed) notes they have written to help with this quiz, but may not share notes written by others.


Ideas To Consider While Reading


1.     Describe working conditions as shown in the book in at least three or four separate settings.  Which conditions do you believe to be the worst?  Which were the most humane?  Explain.

2.     Describe conditions faced by women as shown by the author (it might be helpful to trace the experiences of one or two women as part of this answer).  What obstacles & opportunities did they face?

3.     The Jungle includes many examples of corruption in American society in the early 1900s.  Describe at least three examples of corruption which impacted Jurgis and his family throughout the story.  (Some examples might include affordable housing, politics/graft, judges & police, trusts—like the Beef Trust’s power associated with advertising, sale of tainted products, controlling laborers, etc.)

4.     What was Sinclair’s solution to society’s problems?  Trace the development of this solution throughout the book.  Was his message effective?  Why/why not?

5.     Briefly highlight some of the different decisions and actions taken by Jurgis throughout the course of the story.  Overall, how would you evaluate them as he dealt with many situations while living and working in Packingtown?  (Hint:  do you identify with or despise him?  Is he a sympathetic character or a fool?  These are just a few possibilities.)

6.     What are some of the strengths/weaknesses of this book as a source to learn about the immigrant life and the rise of industry in the US in the early 1900s?  (Here are some ideas:  What was the author's background?  Was the book believable/credible?  Why/why not?  How would you evaluate the author's writing style?  How was the book organized?  Does information in the book complement/contradict lecture?).