"The Jungle" Quotes

Butcher with raw meat
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"The Jungle," a 1906 novel by Upton Sinclair, is full of graphic descriptions of the poor conditions workers and cattle endured in the Chicago meat-packing industry. Sinclair's book was so moving and troubling that it inspired the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency that is to this day responsible for regulating and supervising the food, tobacco, dietary supplement, and pharmaceutical industries in the U.S.

Unsanitary Conditions

  • "It is an elemental odor, raw and crude; it is rich, almost rancid, sensual and strong." (Chapter 2)
  • "The line of the buildings stood clear-cut and black against the sky; here and there out of the mass rose the great chimneys, with the river of smoke streaming away to the end of the world." (Chapter 2)
  • "This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat will be shoveled into carts and the man who did the shoveling will not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one." (Chapter 14)

Mistreatment of Animals

  • "Relentless, remorseless, it was; all his protests, his screams, were nothing to it—it did its cruel will with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and watched him gasp out his life." (Chapter 3)
  • "All day long the blazing midsummer sun beat down upon that square mile of abominations: upon tens of thousands of cattle crowded into pens whose wooden floors stank and steamed contagion; upon bare, blistering, cinder-strewn railroad tracks and huge blocks of dingy meat factories, whose labyrinthine passages defied a breath of fresh air to penetrate them; and there are not merely rivers of hot blood and carloads of moist flesh, and rendering—vats and soup cauldrons, glue—factories and fertilizer tanks, that smelt like the craters of hell—there are also tons of garbage festering in the sun, and the greasy laundry of the workers hung out to dry and dining rooms littered with food black with flies, and toilet rooms that are open sewers." (Chapter 26)

Mistreatment of Workers

  • "And, for this, at the end of the week, he will carry home three dollars to his family, being his pay at the rate of five cents per hour..." (Chapter 6)
  • "They were beaten; they had lost the game, they were swept aside. It was not less tragic because it was so sordid, because that it had to do with wages and grocery bills and rents. They had dreamed of freedom; of a chance to look about them and learn something; to be decent and clean, to see their child group up to be strong. And now it was all gone—it would never be!" (Chapter 14)
  • "He has no wit to trace back the social crime to its far sources—he could not say that it is the thing men have called "the system" that is crushing him to the earth; that it is the packers, his masters, who have dealt their brutal will to him from the seat of justice." (Chapter 16)
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Lombardi, Esther. ""The Jungle" Quotes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/the-jungle-quotes-740317. Lombardi, Esther. (2020, August 28). "The Jungle" Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-jungle-quotes-740317 Lombardi, Esther. ""The Jungle" Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-jungle-quotes-740317 (accessed June 8, 2023).