Lesson Plan - Get It!
Are you hungry? Just step into the local burger joint and place your order. Or use an app to have your prepared meal delivered to your house. Easy for you, but where did those delicacies really come from?
As you have read, nearly all of the workers in Packingtown work in the food processing industry.
Briefly name as many jobs from Packingtown industries that you can recall from your reading for your parent or teacher. All of these jobs were a result of the Industrial Revolution and the creation of the manufacturing process. While these jobs provided enormous opportunity for investors to become wealthy, and the chance to feed the growing populations of cities, these jobs also resulted in the misery of the low-wage workers, which Upton Sinclair recounts in his novel.
Upton Sinclair was known as a "muckraking journalist." This term refers to the group of writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who investigated the conditions of the working poor in the United States and Europe. These writers brought the issues of the lower class to the attention of the middle and upper classes in their newspaper and literary publications. By publicizing these conditions that often went unseen by the middle and upper classes, muckraking journalists helped spur political movements to improve the conditions of the working poor. Modern-day journalists who raise issues of corruption in politics and the workplace are now known as "investigative journalists." To learn more about Sinclair, read the following article. As you read, answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper:
- How did Sinclair's childhood experiences prepare him for his career as a muckraker?
- To what two political parties did Sinclair belong, and why do you think he switched parties in 1934?
- How did Sinclair gather the material needed to write The Jungle?
Read the Upton Sinclair Biography, from Famous People.
After you've read the article and answered the questions, share your answers with your parent or teacher. Once you've discussed your responses, read the next section of The Jungle. As you read, take notes on the specific abuses the workers in the novel face in the workplace. Jurgis, Marija, and Ona all face discrimination in this section, so be sure to write down the trials they face in their jobs, as well as the general descriptions of other problems in the meat-packing industry that Sinclair includes in this section. Read Chapters Eight through Ten in The Jungle and take notes. You can use a print copy of the novel or access an online version of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair via Project Gutenberg.
Once you've finished your notes, move on to the Got It? section to explore the meat-packing industry during the early twentieth century.