Sunday, October 18, 2009

Upton Sinclair

Upton's Sinclair's flat characters were the target of our group discussion's on his book. Most people believed that he would have reached the heart if he had spent more time in the character development phase. I am stuck in the middle of that argument. It seems that in the literary world most readers would like to see hope, wishes come true, some happily-ever-after story. However, what if this was not the case. I wonder if it would have made better sense for Sinclair to pen in a birthday party for one of the kids, or have the wedding guest pay their portions so that the newly-weds would not be left in debt, or omitting the little kids ear falling off from frost-bite from the novel all together. Would these adjustments have made that much of a difference to incite a reader to action?

I believe the authorial choice that overshadowed Sinclair's topic was a difficult one. In fact, I think even with better character development the story would have still missed the heart and hit the stomach. This is because as a people, many of us are often times self-centered. As readers, whether the characters were well developed or not, Sinclair provided a lens for us to view human suffering in the novel but, we were sick of it. Yes, it was drawn out, one catastrophe after the next, but it was present. But one was not moved by the suffering. However, when the thought of that poisoned, diseased food being placed on one's table for nourishment entered the minds of the reader's of his time, self survival instincts superseded characters, tone, and rhetoric. Reader's and critics alike ventured to solve the food problem in an effort to save their lives and the lives of their families and protect them from suffering like the stockyards workers. I would argue that Sinclair thought in this fashion before penning the novel. It was the choice of two evils, should he choose humanitarian efforts as the foci or politics. In the end, we learned from professor Urrea that he chose politics and his reason's why. In a way, for all of us who were just plain tired of the chaos and desired one glimmer of hope, I think Sinclair was saying to the people of the time that he was that hope - vote for me.

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