Friday, October 23, 2009

The Jungle

So...overall I really liked The Jungle. I think Sinclair did a good job of making a point. I think it is interesting, however, that he says he was trying to hit the heart and instead hit the stomach. Well duh. This is a story about the grossest things ever--slaughtering animals for a living. eew. It gives me the willies just to think about it. As we talked about in class, part of the reason he hit the stomach so hard is that he made the characters so generic. Anyone could have fit their descriptions. And while that tactic was useful because it made the story one that was relatable to all immigrants, it also made it rather bland. No one had a personality that was truly defined, and the character creating that he did do was based off of misery. All of the characters are entirely miserable for the entire novel. No one ends up happy, and their is no resolution. In the end, everyone is dead and alone and miserable, and that's just not pleasing. No one likes to hear about how depressing and hopeless life is constantly. He hammers it in through the entire novel, and not once is there a glimmer of hope. When I began reading the novel, I was very optimistic of the entire thing. I felt that I could relate to Jurgis. If there is something I want, my solution to get it is to work harder, get another job, do whatever it takes to make myself as happy as possible. And this was also his solution. However, unlike Jurgis, things go at least half-assed right from time to time for me. As I continued on in the novel, it made me feel so unbelievably hopeless that it became a struggle to continue. Every time I'd pick up the book, I knew there would be some horrible turmoil for these poor souls, and it became like a chore to continue to read it. I get that Sinclair was trying to make a point about the futility of the American dream for so many immigrants, but I think if he would have made the characters a little more...believable...or something...then he would have had much more success at capturing the hearts of his audience. I think he got the feeling that he missed his mark because he made the book too gross. While it was disgusting, it was more just too morose and hopeless. I could have handled the yuckiness if I could have felt some sort of compassion for the characters, but it became too unrealistic. They became like those "friends," everybody has one, you know the ones who do nothing but bitch about their lives, and nothing ever goes well for them, and everything is miserable? Yeah, it was like I made plans with them every night for a week once I got into the heart of the book. And while I did basically finish the book, I had to skip the end because it was such craziness. He could have been much more effective if he had developed a realistic and believable story that also moved the masses.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Generic. A criticism of the work, but you make a great point. It's worth some more critical thought. If Sinclair was a real socialist, is the characterization in the book a socialist attempt to make the characters universal? Today, with more daring prose stylists, the book might have been written in second-person, "you_ mode. Uggh. That would surely wear you out. But it would make its point.