The Jungle

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Animals Symbol Analysis

Animals Symbol Icon
Capitalism devalues workers' human qualities, and strenuous, repetitive jobs turn men and women into mindless beasts of burden. Throughout The Jungle, characters are reduced by their jobs and circumstances to animals who must fight to satisfy their most primal needs. Just as the meatpackers ruthlessly slaughter scores of animals each day, the capitalist machine grinds down its workforce, treating human laborers as an expendable resource.

Animals Quotes in The Jungle

The The Jungle quotes below all refer to the symbol of Animals. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Jungle published in 2001.
Chapter 3 Quotes

They use everything about the hog except the squeal.

Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we're introduced to the meatpacking plant's methods: it takes live animals and turns them into household products: the hair is used for brushes, the skin for lampshades, the meat for eating, etc. The real horror of the meatpacking plant is its capitalistic efficiency: governed by the law of maximizing profits, the owners of the plant have used their ingenuity to build machines that turn the pig from a living animal into a series of products. As we come to recognize, the plant's owners also use their machines and their business to turn human beings--their workers--into similar objects to be exploited and then thrown away.

It's worth thinking more closely about the notion of "using everything but the scream." Sinclair's point seems to be that factories conceal the true brutality of their methods: consumers have no idea that live pigs are brutally killed, or that workers are horribly exploited. By writing his book, Sinclair hopes to reveal "the scream" to his readers.


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Chapter 28 Quotes

There are a million people, men and women and children, who share the curse of the wage-slave…There are a thousand…who are the masters of these slaves, who own their toil…They own not merely the labor of society, they have bought the governments; and everywhere they use their raped and stolen power to intrench themselves in their privileges, to dig wider and deeper the channels through which the river of profits flows to them!—And you, workingmen, workingmen! You have been brought up to it, you plod on like beasts of burden, thinking only of the day and its pain…

Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 255-256
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, a socialist speaker makes a rousing speech in which he sums up everything that's happened to Jurgis so far. The socialist talks about the horrors of rampant capitalism: in an unregulated capitalist society, a tiny minority of people soon control all the means of production, leaving poor workers like Jurgis to operate the factories for tiny sums of money and to be treated like animals: "beasts of burden."

The speech resonates with Jurgis because everything Jurgis has experienced in America so far revolves around the injustices of class inequality. Jurgis is a hardworking, intelligent person, but because he's a poor immigrant, he's given a low-paying, unsafe job. The socialist orator in this chapter is offering Jurgis a view of life outside the capitalist ideology--a place in which Jurgis and his peers will be (ideally) given fair wages and an easier way of life.

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Animals Symbol Timeline in The Jungle

The timeline below shows where the symbol Animals appears in The Jungle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
...see clouds of black smoke and hear the distant lowing and grunting of ten thousand animals. (full context)
Chapter 3
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
...pens" stretching out before them. They observe miles of railroad tracks upon which thousands of animals are carted in everyday to be slaughtered. (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
...visitors uneasy. The hogs are processed by hundreds of men, each performing one task. The animals are processed completely and all parts of them—entrails, waste, skin, bones—are used in some way.... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
...with blood freezing on them and congealing to their feet. With numb hands, they butcher animals and run around through the steam with sharp blades, leading to grisly accidents. (full context)
Chapter 8
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Labor Rights and Socialism Theme Icon
...affected by the seasonal slump and must wait in the freezing stockyards until the first animals arrive, sometimes not till the late afternoon, and stay late into the night to slaughter... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Ona's hysterical outbreaks continue, and she begins to resemble a frightened animal. As the holiday rush approaches, the family's jobs require them to work fifteen or sixteen... (full context)