We got to sit down with Upton Sinclair, author of the controversial and powerful novel, The Jungle.
(The italic lettering will represent his response)
–What inspired you to write this book, Mr.Sinclair?
As a journalist, I felt it was my job to expose secrets that the public needed to know, and this is why I wrote it. Nobody really understood the struggles the immigrant working class faced, so I wanted to make that clear. I wanted to make the readers feel what the workers felt, and that was a feeling of hopelessness because of the extreme poverty that they faced. They no longer felt like employees, they felt like slaves.
–The novel reveals shocking and disturbing information about the meat packing industry, how did you gather all of this information?
I was working undercover as a worker in the meatpacking plants of the chicago stockyards, it was an experience that I will never forget.
–How do you feel about the response your novel received?
I am not happy with the results. The audience didn’t really focus on what I wanted them to, instead they focused on food safety. I wanted them to realize that these workers were being exploited, but they misunderstood. They hardly cared about the mistreatment of these workers, and really just worried about the unsafe meat. I aimed for the audiences heart, and by accident I hit them in the stomach.
-Why did you reject the legislation that led to the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906?
I rejected the legislation because it would cost the United States far too much, and it would not cost the corrupt meat packing industry a thing.
–What made the meat packing industry so corrupt?
Great question, the people in charge of the meat packing industry did whatever they could to keep as much money in their wallets as possible. This meant hiring immigrant workers and paying them very low wages knowing that they would not complain. They also exploited children and women, because they were so easy to manipulate. This is what I wanted my audience to see, I wanted them to realize that the food they were buying was contributing to the exploitation of these workers.
–Was it worth it? If you had the chance to go back, would you still publish The Jungle?
Yes of course, I’d still publish it. My point did not get the attention that I wanted it to, but there were still some changes. The meat packing industry was looked at with disgust and their sales were hurt, so much so that they attempted to censor my novel so it wouldn’t seem so morbid.
Thank you, Mr. Sinclair. I hope those who read this interview now understand the real truth Mr. Sinclair wanted to expose.