Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle (1906) gives an in depth look at the lives of the immigrant workers here in America. In fact the look was so in depth that the Pure Food and Drug Act was created as a result. Many people tend to focus purely on the unsanitary conditions instead of the hardships faced by the workers. Actually I think that Sinclair doesn’t want the focus on the meatpacking, but on overcoming obstacles, especially through Socialism. Sinclair was himself very outspoken when it came to Socialism.
The story takes place in Chicago with a group of immigrants. They have come to the United States only to discover that it is a cruel, harsh world, and the land of shattered dreams. The group first goes through many difficult trials and tribulations. The first big problem faced by the group is a marriage, which costs a great deal of money. The second ordeal is a very tragic death. After these one couple buys a house that is sold to them for three times its value. The parents and other groups then move into the house. One of the characters goes into the meat packing industry and this is where we find out all of the unsanitary details of the factory. Another character is a musician who is struggling to find work so his wife takes a job. After a while the character at the meat packing plant breaks his arm and is not received back once he heals. He learns at this that the owners do not care for their workers and will take you if you are new, but as soon as something happens they throw you out. It is at this point that the character talks to a Socialist ad he inspires him to begin traveling to the meetings. He returns to his job and becomes the manager immediately. After his first Socialist rally, he listens to mainly two people; one an ex-professor who has become a philosopher and the other an evangelist who has become a traveler.
The Jungle had a great deal to do about socialism. Upton disliked Communism and Capitalism a great deal and thought that Socialism was the answer. Sinclair was brought up in Baltimore and his family was considerably poor. His father was very unsuccessful at hi job and it is believed that for this reason Sinclair became a Socialist because in communist countries all people are treated equal.
Mother Daughter Relationships – Mothers and Daughters in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club
Mothers and Daughters in Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club, explores the relationships and experiences of four Chinese mothers and four Chinese-American daughters. The difference in upbringing of those women born during the first quarter of this century in China, and their daughters born in California, is undeniable.
From the beginning of the novel, you hear Suyuan Woo tell the story of “The Joy Luck Club,” a group started by some Chinese women during World War II, where “we feasted, we laughed, we played games, lost and won, we told the best stories. And each week, we could hope to be lucky. That hope was our only joy.” (p. 12) Really, this was their only joy. The mothers grew up during perilous times in China. They all were taught “to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, to eat [their] own bitterness.” (p. 241)
Though not many of them grew up terribly poor, they all had a certain respect for their elders, and for life itself. These Chinese mothers were all taught to be honorable, to the point of sacrificing their own lives to keep any family members’ promise. Instead of their daughters, who “can promise to come to dinner, but if she wants to watch a favorite movie on TV, she no longer has a promise” (p. 42), “To Chinese people, fourteen carats isn’t real gold . . . [my bracelets] must be twenty-four carats, pure inside and out.” (p. 42)
Towards the end of the book, there is a definite line between the differences of the two generations. Lindo Jong, whose daughter, Waverly, doesn’t even know four Chinese words, describes the complete difference and incompatibility of the two worlds she tried to connect for her daughter, American circumstances and Chinese character. She explains that there is no lasting shame in being born in America, and that as a minority you are the first in line for scholarships. Most importantly, she notes that “In America, nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.” (p. 289)
Living in America, it was easy for Waverly to accept American circumstances, to grow up as any other American citizen. As a Chinese mother, though, she also wanted her daughter to learn the importance of Chinese character. She tried to teach her Chinese-American daughter “How to obey parents and listen to your mother’s mind.