The Jungle and Fast Food Nation essay

The united states have some of the highest number of immigrants in the world. Most of these arrive into the US from Mexico and Lithuania driven by the promissory, but ever receding hope of the American dream. They all wish to achieve success, and by all means possible be financially and socially stable. But most times that eludes them, forcing them to seek low paid jobs or dangerous jobs and hence live a substandard life. Food being so central to the needs of man, anything comes is just good for them. First because they so poorly paid, and secondly because they are so pressed for time they just cannot cook and eat a well prepared, healthy meal at home. The advantage trickles down to the fast food industry. Eric Schlosser writes about the dark sides and the very sensitive issues that are experienced by the immigrants due to this very vibrant fast food industry in his book; "Fast Food Nation."

Some of the experiences are considered very negative. The positive ones being the fact one gets a full stomach in a very short time. This comes very cheaply for that matter. Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" similarly emphasizes the poor working conditions and the various negative experiences that the immigrants are faced with as they go about working in the meat packing industry. There was a change in the way Americans live and eat, and one of the consequences of this eventually redirection of society was the birthing of the fast food industry and the meat packing industries. There are essentially a difference between the subject matter of Schlosser and Sinclair's books, but they have both picked on very similar and detailed flaws in the two industries.

A difference between the language that these immigrants speak, and the language their hosts speak, which is primarily English, is indeed a main undoing for them. The fact that they work and serve the American, whilst they are not at all fluent English speakers, cause struggle in their part and inconvenience with the locals. Statistics provided by Scholesser in "Fast Food Nation" indicate that roughly thirty to fifty percent of Subway's new franchisees are immigrants (Schlosser 101). Originating from non-English speaking nations, many of them are not fluent in English. Sinclair's book, on the other hand, shows a family that is disadvantaged as they look up a house simply because language limits them. 

If they ever hope to get a house, they have to enlist the services of a translator. If these immigrants do not find an honest translator, they may end up conned. At the same time, there is also the possibility of spending their precious and hard earned money on something that is not worthy at all. This language barrier problem is intensified by the fact that the learning of a different language requires that one give both effort and time to it. With all the demands laid on their time, these immigrants have no time to attend classes to learn the new language. They had better spend that hour or so trying to make a buck that will help put food on the table or put food on the table.

Both Sinclair's "The Jungle" and Scholesser's "Fast Food Nation," portray various aspects of sanitation. Health, as they say, is wealth, and the fastest way to lose one's health is to lose ones sanitary sensitivity. As a result of unhygienic processing, Kristoforas in Sinclair's "The Jungle," ends up dead. This fatal encounter with the contaminated meat is best spelled out by Sinclair when he says; "Perhaps it was the smoked sausage he had eaten that morning - which may have been made out of some of the tubercular pork that was condemned as unfit for export" (Sinclair 144). Schlolessers analysis of the same issue is given a broader view.

He says that in the eight years since the Jack in the Box outbreak, approximately 500,000 Americans, most them who were children, have been made ill by E. coli O157:H7. So many people have been hospitalized, and hundreds have died (Schlosser 199). Most fast foods actually lead to a great deal of weight gain. And this in return leads to obesity. Many American children, even the adults as well, are at times the main sufferers of this unfortunate situation. Obese children are susceptible to many other diseases as well, and the mortality rate is definitely at a record high most times. Sinclair and Schlolessor have established a definite aim of bringing this knowledge to the readers of "The Jungle" and "Fast Food Nation."

The specific details of Upton Sinclairs "The Jungle," and Eric Scholesser's "Fast Food Nation" are essentially different, despite all the similarities that can be identified. According to Scholesser; all American teenagers who fall in that category of the working class work at one point or another. However there is no doubt that the two writer's have showcased the similarities that exist among the immigrants. They have used similar industries in their descriptions; that of the fast food business and that of meat packing. There is a clear difference as to the intentions of these workers though. Whilst the immigrants work out of sheer necessity, they want to put food on the table, they want to pay for the rooms they stay at and they want to pay in order to move around easily, the American teens work for very different reasons. To them, work is a way of earning a quick back that they can use out during clubbing session or savings for their future cars. Only ten and eleven respectively, two boys; Vilimas and Nikalojus, had to work as newspaper vendors from morning to evening as Sinclair writes in the jungle.

The consequences of working at such a tender age are at most very appalling. For one, since this is a time when they are supposed to be schooling, the boys have to miss out of school. There is a way in which their entire lives are affected. Whilst in the minimal occasions some of these kids end up achieving something substantial in life, most times they end up being casual workers as they lack any particular training. It is obvious, then, that the American teenagers who work part time have a better life and chance at life compared to the miserable situations that the immigrants work under and have to experience on a daily basis. I quote Scholesser who writes that; "Although some students at Harrison work at fast food restaurants to help their families, most of the kids take jobs after school in order to have a car" (Schlosser 79). The teenagers described in Eric Scholesser's book work merely for themselves. But the families he described have to work full-time if they are to put food on the table.

Vulnerability to sexual harassment is highest to those who are at least defenseless or susceptible to bribes and favors. Most struggling people, if they do not know their rights, or seeker of cheap come stuff, are bound to be exploited one way or another. The works of Sinclair and Scholesser contains several examples of sexual harassment. The immigrants are treated like low class almost savages who deserve little respects if any. Sinclair writes on the example of Ona's boss who is a threat to her family's well being. As a return for this much needed safety for the family, the boss asks for sexual favors. "I don't feel like doing it" (Sinclair 171). Ona tells the boss. She continues to lament that He told her - he would have her turned off. He told her that he would - they would all of them lose our places. That they would never get anything to do - in America  - again. He - he meant it - he would have ruined us" (Sinclair 171).

This treatment of a female by a male boss sets the tone for the way most other defenseless or fearful immigrant workers are taken advantage of. It is even worse if these immigrants are not legal residents in the United States. It means that irresponsible people seeking to take advantage of them may use this unstable status as the basis of their threats.  Eric Scholesser, in his book, "Fast Food Nation," best brings this across when he states that; "Many female workers optimistically regard sex with their supervisor as a way to gain a secure place in American society, a green card, a husband - or at the very least a transfer to an easier job at the plant" (Schlosser 176). It is clear from this statement that sexual harassment on females among the immigrants is pretty rampant. With the existence of the American law, it is quite a shock that things happen, and happens so frequently.

In the event that a worker is injured at work, the person has to understand that they have rights and they have to be compensated. The employer has a duty to fulfill and this and should ensure that their workers are fully compensated. Both books illustrate this when in "The Jungle" Jurgis suffers a knife cut and several sprains when falling into vats. If one feels that their claims are being ignored, they have the right to go to court and make formal complaints. There are laws that protect workers from suffering further due to injuries incurred at work.

Both books also emphasize that every worker must be fully compensated for their efforts. Everything they do, whether it is during the working hours, or during overtimes that they have worked, need be fully remunerated.

By the time that Eric Sinclair wrote his book, almost a hundred years had gone by since the famous Upton Sinclair wrote his novel; The Jungle. It is therefore correct to note how dissimilar these two writers are. But the essential issues discussed by the two books are in many ways very much similar. Since the early nineteen hundreds, the fast food industry and the meat packing industry has grown dramatically. However it's as shame that the working conditions are still so deplorable. There is still rampant discriminations among the immigrants.


It is incumbent upon the good people and all American citizens to seek that the government and all that are in positions of authority are pressed to provide good working conditions for the all the immigrants. Again, whether or not the immigrants have achieved legal status, the law should be followed to the later when it comes to the protection of basic human rights. No one should be allowed to take advantage of another human being just because they are Americans like us.

The Jungle and Fast Food Nation essay

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