The Jungle: Chapters 1-3

Contributor: Melissa Kowalski. Lesson ID: 12075

If you live in the United States, it is very likely that your ancestors arrived from another country. Why do people immigrate, and what awaits them -- dreams or nightmares? Follow one group's journey!


Literary Studies

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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If you were an immigrant to the United States, would you choose to live in a jungle? Since the United States is not well-known for having climatological jungles like the one pictured above, to what do you think the novel's title, The Jungle, might refer?

The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, was published in 1906.

The book is famous for being one of the catalysts for the passage of the 1906 Food and Drug Act in Congress, which founded the modern-day FDA. The Jungle follows a group of Lithuanian immigrants who journey to the United States to seek the American Dream. The characters in the novel are members of the large wave of immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived in America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of these immigrants settled in urban areas and worked low-level jobs in order to survive. The characters in the novel first settle in Chicago and take jobs in the stockyards, processing meat.

To learn more about the history of immigration in Chicago, read Immigration to the United States: Chicago, and answer the questions listed below on a separate sheet of paper:

  • Why was Chicago an attractive city for immigrants?
  • What ethnic groups migrated in large numbers to Chicago?

After answering the questions, discuss the responses with your parent or teacher.

  • If your family or ancestors immigrated to a country, where did they locate and why did they choose this location?

Discuss any family history of immigration that you know with your parent or teacher. If you are interested in exploring your family history further, you can also research immigration history for your family online. For example, The National Park Service provides a guide of websites for Finding Arrival Records Online to track the arrival of immigrants to the United States.

Sometimes, all immigrants know is a location name when they arrive in a country. For the characters in The Jungle, all they know is the word "Chicago," and that a family friend had gotten rich there. Read Chapters One through Three in The Jungle to discover the main characters and their story of immigration. As you read, take notes on the following three characters. Copy the chart below into your notes for the novel:

  Marija Jurgis Ona

Family History


Reason for Immigrating to the U.S.      




Physical Description




You can use your own print copy of the novel or you can access a copy of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair at Project Gutenberg. On the homepage for the novel, you can choose the type of text you'd like to read online or download to a device for free. As you read Chapters One through Three, think about the conditions that immigrants faced when arriving in the United States as described by Sinclair.

Then, move on to the Got It? section to reflect on your reading.

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