Chan 1 Harrison Chan Ms.

Nicholson AP English 26 November 2009 The Truth of Capitalism While on paper, capitalism is a system with justice where the honest worker lives to the standard that he works, as with communism, in practice it promotes a trend where diligent, honest men are forced to throw away their fundamental, goodly morals in reaching for an ideal of the American Dream and don the cloth of a scoundrel to survive. The economic system of the early 20th century, as demonstrated in The Jungle, is a wicked establishment which forces the candid, working man to assimilate the false “morals” of big business or face eradication. For big business to go unhindered in their domination of the working man, the justice system has become plagued by corruption and graft that promotes dishonesty to allow the scoundrel to move up the hierarchy of power while their honest competitors are locked away. The honest man who clings to his idea of the American Dream, where his hard work brings about a better life is doomed to endure a survival in the dregs of Packingtown. Ona is a young girl of eighteen years, thrust into the clutches of the Packingtown machine. However, when the family decides to “purchase” a home for themselves, Ona and Teta Elzbieta decide that it is time for Ona to work. Ona had decided that it was unfair to force only Jurgis and Teta Elzbieta to support the entire family. Later, Ona’s boss takes and interest in her and proceeds to rape her. Ona is compelled to keep silent about the rape or her boss threatens to fire her, Jurgis, and

Chan 2 Teta Elzbieta. Through his threats and corruption, Connor controls Ona as a puppet master controls his puppets. For her entire life, Teta Elzbieta has been an honest woman making her living through honest means. Once she arrives in Packingtown, all of her morals mean nothing, for the masses of big business do not care about her, a lone woman. When she comes to America she has no choice but to find work to help support the family. Like all the horrible things that go into the sausages she makes at the factory, her mind and soul are ground up like so many little pieces of meat. She is transformed into a mindless, machine completely owned by her work. Her will is reshaped by labor and blood and sweat until she is a prisoner of her own life. Marija was a strong woman, strong enough to physically outdo most women and even some men. She continually defied the bosses of Packingtown, fighting for her morals, her dream of the American Dream. Her work ethic rivaled even Jurgis’s determined progression, but in the end her determination was not enough. She was fired from her job painting cans at one of Durham’s factories. When the family moved downtown after Jurgis left, Marija turned to prostitution. She admitted that she had become addicted to the morphine that the “Madame” of the house gave to the girls, but simply stated that she made good money. However, she cannot leave of her own free will, both because of her addiction and because of her monetary attachment to the establishment. Marija cast away the former morals that governed her life, not out of displeasure, but rather in favor of survival. Through the entire course of the novel, it seems that there is no man more cruel and hateful than Phil Connor. While there are plenty of political bosses that have hackneyed the topics of corruption and graft, it is Phil Connor who raped and blackmailed Ona. He is a dishonest bastard who lives off the pain and loss of others

Chan 3 like some evil vampire. Because of his position as a foreman and high rank in the labor union, he is shielded from most punishment that he might incur from his action. When brought before the judge and accused of rape, he denied it flat out, and the judge went along with nary a hiccup. The accusation was only considered insofar as to make Jurgis look guiltier at his trial, as a man inventing stories to exculpate himself. In a polar opposite direction, the reader briefly follows Dede Antanas, the father of Jurgis. Dede Antanas is a pure, honest man who has worked his entire life doing good, hard work and “taking it like a man”. Even as every prospective employer turns him down and acquaintances, friends, bosses, and police alike tell Antanas to go home, the old man continues his search for a job. He feels bound by honor and responsibility to earn a share of the family’s income. When he is finally hired by a pickling factory, Dede Antanas is overjoyed, disgusted as he is with being relegated to cleaning up the slop and pickle from the floor. Every day, he toils without fail, doing his job with determination, while the acid in the pickle eats away at his boots and eventually his flesh. For all Dede Antanas’s determination, loyalty, and hard work, he is left in the dust when he falls mortally ill. The packing industry has no time or care to aid the thousands that they burn to empty husks of men. Jurgis, the center of the antics of The Jungle, came to America a young, honest, and determined man. He had a single work ethic that brought him pride and supported his spirit and body. Several times, before he faced the truth of Packingtown, Jurgis pushed on, saying “I will work harder”. Jurgis fails to understand that he is the exact type of man that the bosses of Packingtown love. He will work until he drops dead from exhaustion or he finds the truth of his way of life. This type of working man is a prisoner of his own beliefs, he is blinded by his ethic and fails to

Chan 4 see the traps and lies that weave around him, using him up, draining him, and then tossing aside his useless shell. After little Antanas’s death, Jurgis broke free, leaving Packingtown and living a year of safety, relative comfort, and increasing wealth, but only by “getting in bed” with the very crowd that he had once so hated, the criminals and such that commanded with stolen money and graft funds. The most unfortunate soul through all this avarice, tyranny, and torment is little Antanas, the son of Ona and Jurgis. When born, Antanas is a symbol of hope, joy, and all things good for Jurgis. Antanas anchors Jurgis in temperance, giving Jurgis something to come home for, but also trapping Jurgis in a family life. In a horrible turn, Antanas met his end at the bottom of a pool of mud. Falling from an elevated porch, five feet above the road, Antanas sank in the mud and drowned before anybody could save him. So much money flows from the hands of political bosses into pockets to “grease the wheels” every day in Packingtown, yet none of it can be diverted to build, for the common good, simple sidewalks that could have prevented such a drowning and countless other accidents, ailments, and injuries that result from the mud-submerged streets. Throughout the early 20th century, the economic system tried every imaginable way to scam the American public and working class out of their money and livelihoods. Rife corruption fueled a collapse of moral standards and American dreams, crushing the spirit of hundreds of thousands of new immigrants who fell into the lowest levels of poverty. An entire generation was raised on the lowest standards of life, living off of bribes, corrupt politicians and businessmen, and poisoned food supplies. Criminals rose in the ranks of society, earning power from their heinous ways. Honest men fell to the bottom, subject to the whim of the criminals who employed him, having no other place to go for employment.

Chan 5 Nonetheless, it is only through an even further corrupted justice system that the rule of big business thrived. Few, if any, judges sitting in the courts during those early years of the twentieth century were not taken or owned by big business. The bosses ordered who was sent to jail and who was let off without reprimand. Rapists, murderers, con artists, and thieves who worked for the bosses were dismissed from the court, declared innocent against overwhelming evidence. In contrast, the honest men who fought them, to protect their families, their jobs, or their loves, were often thrown into jail on little to no evidence. Many a man of solid, goodly morals entered Packingtown dreaming of the American Dream, believing he would make his fortune and live a life of wealth and prosperity. If a one left Packingtown with his morals, his soul, his body, and his spirit intact, he was a blessed man and a miracle. Every other poor soul who entered the cursed city was destroyed, manipulated, reshaped into a mindless working machine trained to do a few things over and over, every day of every year for absolute minimum pay. The people were captured, broken, and trained as thoroughly as any slave bought from Africa. Instead of whips and lashes though, instead, the immigrants who were broken watched their families succumb to disease and poison. They watched their children die in puddles of sewage in the streets. They watched their life savings destroyed in seconds. They watched their loved ones reduced to empty husks. All the while, the packers lived like kings, or more accurately tyrants, squeezing every last penny out of their employees before tossing them aside like so many dry leaves to crackle and crumble under the feet of the giants. On paper, communism has been shown to be the most wonderful, equal, beneficial political system known to man. In practice, it implodes with corruption. The same applies to capitalism, destroying the lives of a generation of immigrants

Chan 6 to America in the early 20th century. Big business took advantage of legions of immigrants fresh off ships from Europe, crushing the life and money out of poor families, then throwing them away. The justice system stood by and watched, intervening only to pardon the thousands of criminals that emerged from legions of immigrants. Benevolent men and women who clung to a hope of reaching the American Dream were crushed beneath the shoes of the bosses.

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