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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

12. Migrant

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•  Using the Video
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•  Activities
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Activities: Author Activities

Upton Sinclair - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: What is Jurgis's original response to getting a job with the meatpacking company? What are we to make of that response?

  2. Comprehension: Why did meatpacking companies almost always employ only immigrants?

  3. Comprehension: How are European immigrants portrayed by Sinclair throughout The Jungle? How does this compare to his portrayal of nonimmigrants?

  4. Context: Compare the living and working conditions of the Rudkus family with those portrayed by Bulosan in America Is in the Heart, by Rivera in . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra/. . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, and by Viramontes in Under the Feet of Jesus. What are the similarities and differences between the ethnic workers in all these works? What burdens do they share? How are their dreams similar or different?

  5. Exploration: The Jungle is a novel in the tradition of literary naturalism. Compare it with earlier naturalistic works, such as Stephen Crane's Maggie or Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie. Note the differences in the way Sinclair incorporates socialist themes in his novel.

  6. Exploration: To better understand popular opinion regarding European immigrants in the early twentieth century, investigate the Sacco-Vanzetti trial. Who was involved? What happened? Was the verdict right? In addition to Sinclair, which other important American writers wrote about the trial?

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