Monday, November 21, 2011

The Jungle, Part 1: Breakfast And Dinner

Here's a passage from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. The book was written in 1906 and was set in Chicago's meatpacking district. The characters are 12 newly-arrived Lithuanian immigrants.
"... at a quarter past five every morning. She would have ready a great pot full of steaming black coffee, and oatmeal and bread and smoked sausages; and then she would fix them their dinner pails with more thick slices of bread with lard between them--they could not afford butter--and some onions and a piece of cheese."
The dinner pails were packed for those in the group who worked in the stockyards during the day.

I'm only about a fifth of the way through. There's a lot here.

The Jungle, Part 1: Breakfast And Dinner
The Jungle, Part 2: Honeycombed With Rottenness
The Jungle, Part 3: Food Was Not As It Seemed
The Jungle, Part 4: Sausage And Lard
Photo of the inside of one of Chicago's meatpacking plants from Wikipedia's entry on The Jungle.


Adele Hawkins said...

I must try to read that book again. The narratives presented by every history text book I've ever read talk about the book as if the issues in The Jungle are a thing of the past, but such is not the case.

Bix said...

I like that it was written at the time the events were occurring. Something seemingly insignificant for Sinclair at the time may carry much more weight today.

Dr. Mel said...

You know, that's not such a bad lunch for non-unionized laborers. Bix, I haven't read the book (couldn't bring myself to do it)--does it seem like things are worse for most animals now?

Bix said...

This is the first time I've read it. I really can't say just yet, although from what I've read so far, they do experience miserable lives. Sadly, the humans in the book do too.

Dr. Mel said...

From what I've read, both the animals and humans still suffer today in CAFOs and slaughter houses. But think how sad it would have been back then for child laborers (though, again, it seems like the country today--or portions of it, including Republican front runner Newt Gingrich--wants to revive child labor). So they want every woman to bear every child, regardless of the circumstances of the baby's conception or health of the mother, then they want to put those non-unionized children to work and, as well, deprive them of decent food (Republicans voted down the part of Obama's budget that would have improved the quality of food provided in school lunches, instead of, as now, getting cheap, pre-made, frozen crap from Sodexo, Aramark, etc.).