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pumkin54
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams

It's funny that I find this discussion on BnN. I just finished reading this again about a month ago. I'd remembered reading this book in college and being moved by it, so I picked it up again. The first half of the book, particularly these opening chapters were superbly written. I spent more than a few late nights reading in bed because the stories of these characters was so intriguing, appalling, saddening.

The wedding scene is especially important because it establishes the characters as living people, with hopes and dreams and expectations. Later, as the story progressed, I often found myself thinking back to this scene with regret.

For the letter written by Ben's aunt, about the sunset, that point of view is actually one shared by the family in this book. When they first arrive in Packingtown and are being shown around, their first impressions are of life and vibrancy, of a well-oiled machine that they are eager to become a part of. I believe Sinclair himself comments on the beautiful sunsets created by the pollution rising into the air.

Like Ben, I found the last few chapters of the book to be almost a completely different story. The protagonist was no longer Jurgis, but Socialism. It was as if the story ended and then the last few chapters were one long-winded epilogue. I found myself skipping and skimming entire pages. I was reading it for the story and there is no story in the last few chapters. It was solely political...propaganda (I say that hesitantly because it has a somewhat negative connotation these days, but that's what it is regardless). I'm not saying to stop reading or anything, I'm simply stating my opinion/pov.
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Choisya
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams

[ Edited ]

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-22-200706:36 PM

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vivico1
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams

pumkin,
Don't worry about the mentioning of your feel of propaganda in this book. In a couple of the messages, you will see where we discussed that very thing :smileyhappy: Thank you for not getting to specific on chapters past where you are posting i.e. here is 1-6, as to not spoil it for those of us going through our first read of the book. Thus, the messages on spoiler rules too. I am with you about the great story going on here about this family, it makes for great reading. I think tho,since I have not read this book before, only things about it, that the point of it really is about the parts you saw at the end. Actually, the ideas are throughout the book, the people are a way to bring them out. He needs us to really get a feel of this group, as a family, as humans with dreams and hopes, to make them REAL, if he is to get across the point of what is happening to people because of corrupt systems, dont you think?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Choisya
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Re: Chapters 1-6:

[ Edited ]

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-22-200706:33 PM

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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams (a spoiler)



pumkin54 wrote:

The wedding scene is especially important because it establishes the characters as living people, with hopes and dreams and expectations. Later, as the story progressed, I often found myself thinking back to this scene with regret.

For the letter written by Ben's aunt, about the sunset, that point of view is actually one shared by the family in this book. When they first arrive in Packingtown and are being shown around, their first impressions are of life and vibrancy, of a well-oiled machine that they are eager to become a part of. I believe Sinclair himself comments on the beautiful sunsets created by the pollution rising into the air.

Like Ben, I found the last few chapters of the book to be almost a completely different story. The protagonist was no longer Jurgis, but Socialism. It was as if the story ended and then the last few chapters were one long-winded epilogue. I found myself skipping and skimming entire pages. I was reading it for the story and there is no story in the last few chapters. It was solely political...propaganda (I say that hesitantly because it has a somewhat negative connotation these days, but that's what it is regardless). I'm not saying to stop reading or anything, I'm simply stating my opinion/pov.




Thank you for joining our discussion with such illuminating insights. I love what you say about the tour and well-oiled machine; it is clear that the two immigrants are already on an assembly line and they don't know it. Call it the industrial production of the nuclear family.

The break-up of the family unit shows that Sinclair is not just derisive of industry but in some sense suspicious of the family itself--he takes him on a journey of liberation THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE THE FAMILY. Full human potential lies beyond family duty and responsibility, he is arguing; those things keep workers chained to their exploitive jobs. I'll come back later to the question of why you are absolutely right that Socialism, not Jurgis, becomes the hero of the story.
Bob
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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams

Well, yes...Sinclair was a polemicist. They're not known for subtlety.





PaulK wrote:
The opening chapter on the wedding was great. It certainly portrayed the difficulties the family faced but it also showed some optimism or at least a hope that things could get better by the strength of the love of Jurgis for Ona and the toughness of Marija. However the next 5 chapters methodically take away most hope and are very depressing. I hope the book does not continue with the non-stop painting of a very bleak picture although I fear it does. I thought Dickens had some bleak stories but at least he had some comic characters to lighten the mood. Sinclair is certainly not subtle in making his points about the working conditions and corruption.


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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams & Weddings

I interpreted this the same way as Paul. Not that these poor immigrants were blowing money on extravangant weddings, but that the custom was for guests to pay during the dance (like the Dollar Dances at weddings today, except with a lot more money). But the guests at Jurgis and Ona's wedding didn't pay (perhaps suggesting that they've become more Americanized?). Jurgis, not wanting it to upset Ona and spoil the day, promises to work harder.





PaulK wrote:


Choisya wrote:
You asked us elsewhere what contemporary relevance the novel had today and I found the wedding scene to be very contemporary. Not only immigrants, but many quite poor working class people, still spend thousands of pounds/dollars on their wedding instead of using the money to improve their lives or 'saving it for a rainy day'. (I have neighbours living in a small council house with two young children, who this year spent £14000 ($28000?) on a wedding in Barbados which they would have been better spending (IMHO) on a deposit to buy a larger house.) I never have been able to understand this tradition and told my four children that I would not spend money on extravagant weddings but would give them money towards setting up their first home. It is even worse to have this sort of extravagance when marriages often break down after a few years - at least the Jurgis' and Onas would be more likely to have the rest of their lives to pay off their debts!

I also deplore the modern trend (does it exist over there?) of aping the upper classes by hiring stately homes, top hats and tails, horses and carriages etc etc for weddings. Sorry if I offend anyone here who has done this but it is a bete noir of mine.

I felt that the extravagant and chaotic wedding described by Sinclair set the scene for the downward spiral I feel will take place in the rest of the novel. It depressed me:smileysad:




fanuzzir wrote:
The first several chapters of the novel lay out all the great rituals of Americanization that immigrants were supposed to look forward to: getting a job, buying a home, starting a family. In the beginning is also a wonderful wedding that seems to bring all the customs of the Old country intact into the United States.

It's typical of novels of this period to make happiness and personal dreams part of a larger economic drama, but this portrayal has has a special poignancy. Enjoy getting to know these characters in their working and domestic lives.







I do agree with you in your opinions of spending huge sums on weddings. I think one good option is to tell your children how much you are willing to give them and let them choose whether to uses all or part on their wedding.
In the Jungle I believe they had hopes of making a profit on their wedding but too many people did not pay for a dance with Ona or just came for the free beer. The whole experience is just another painful lesson they learned.


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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Read all you can

Relax, Viv. I don't think Ben was trying to order anybody around and it's not like we'd have to listen to him if he were. He just didn't like the end of the book. I'm sure Fan can handle moderating the discussion without our help.

Besides, the purpose of real literary criticism isn't to tell us which books are worth reading, but to place the book into a wider context and connect it with other work. Sadly, ever since Siskel and Ebert's thumbs came along, it's been hard to find good criticism outside academia. Even the books section of the New York Times is pretty shallow. The New York Review of Books is a good resource though -- www.nybooks.com





vivico1 wrote:

BenKitchen wrote:
no spoiler dont worry

I finnished the book. I have decided it was worth reading because of how well it was written. I will tell you a few things to keep in mind at the end of the book, anytime there is a speach, skip it because its long and pointless and is several pages of nothing. Also the last two chapters are now worth reading. It is all politics and is boring and not worth it. After you find out what happens to jargus and his family just stop reading. Dont was your time reading Sinclar's views on socialism. They don't really amount to anything and I think they will ruin the book for you. Try to get through chapter 16. I know its hard but it gets easyier to read.


Ben?
I am way behind a lot of you, still in chapter 1, the class just starts today and I have had a lot to do. But, in a book club discussion...for someone who has just finished it, or for anyone who has read it before...dont you think its going a bit beyond discussion to tell people, skip the speeches, they are boring, this chapter was bad, dont read the last two etc??? The thing about books is, that we all take from them something a bit different and how do we get a total feel for a book, in a book club, if we dont read it all? I can see saying at the end when we all get to discuss what we felt about the book, well i hated this part or that part, but this is awefully early for a critique of the book. Its like movie reviews, I will read them, to see what a movie is about if i have never heard of it before, but i rarely go by their advice if they think it is bad. I just decide on my own based on the subject matter and have very often been very glad I didnt miss a film because of what a critic said. I understand your point, but I do think its something to share when the last chapters are posted and we are asked about the entire book. I would say to anyone, you are in the bookclub class of Sinclair's The Jungle, its a serious book, lets all read it together and discuss as we go and when we are done share our feelings on the book. I mean, rather than skip those chapters and speeches you suggest, since this is a place of discussion, wouldnt you rather that we all read them too and then see if we got the same feeling you did? Or what we thought about them that made them more alive for us? Its going to take awhile to catch up with some of you and I know I am not the only one, some may still be just getting their book, so you may have to wait some to get the opinions on things you may be excited at this point to talk about but hang in there with us and, this is just from me ok, never suggest for people what in a book NOT to read. Books are bound papers of discovery , even if its a comedy. Let everyone discover what they can from the full book. :smileyhappy:


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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Spoiler Chapter 3

I noticed the repetition as well, especially with metaphors. I assumed it was stylistic (the way some poets use tautological couplets). There's no reason I can see to think Sinclair believed his audience wouldn't understand him otherwise. And I don't think he's just trying to beat us over the head since other writers of the same period, even those writing polemics like George Orwell, didn't do the same thing. So I take it that he was trying to be lyrical.




vivico1 wrote:
In chapter 3 you see that excitement in Jurgis of the immigrant with hopes in America. He gets a job easily because of his physical stature and is so proud to be "a part" of it all. The description of the size of this place overwhelms me even today! The tour, some are sick and shocked, Jurgis is in such surprise but more in a sense of, hey this is one heck of an efficent way of doing things and I can go with the flow. I wonder how much tho, is his excitement of working and being overwhelmed by it all, he just feels, sure whatever it takes, I am now employed! I love the way Sinclair leads you with analogies at first but then he kind of beats you over the head in case you didnt get it. "The chutes into which the hogs went climbed high up to the very top......the hogs went up by the power of their own legs...with its river of hogs, all patiently toiling upward....into a room from which there is no returning for hogs." Then later Jurgis saying, I am glad I am not a hog. This says it all. The hogs, the poor immigrants not even treated as human, going of their own power to destruction, as they try to push to the top. The river of hogs...the mass influx of immigrants, all toiling trying to get to the same place. And then dear Jurgis, in his innocence, the dumb brute who doesnt know he is the hog! I get it and this is powerful imagery in itself to me. I really didnt need the next two pages of giving the hogs human feelings or attributes to get the point that Jurgis doesn't. It was more unnecessary to me, than the following description of how the hogs are slaughtered. Was this more about who Sinclair was writing to in the early 1900s that he finds it necessary to give this great analogy first, but then for those who may not get it, spell it out the next minute in those couple of pages mentioned? It kind of spoiled the great analogy for me to spend so much time then explaining it in simpler terms. As for the description of what is done to the hogs as they are slaughtered, the sights and sounds, I wouldnt want to see or hear it either and it would sicken me but at the same time, this part not only goes to the actual event of the stockyards but is good to cement in your mind, the horror in that first analogy. But as for the meat industry side alone, stiffen up people, surely no one thinks the "process" is much different today? We dont cuddle our food chain animals and gently put them to sleep with the needle before we slaughter them and something has to happen to the immense amount of them before they look like that juicy steak on your plate. The poignant analogy of what was to come for the innocent immigrants touched a deeper cord in me than the horrible way we prepare our animal food. If you ever lived on a farm and saw or pig or cow slaughtered and cleaned and dressed, or maybe killed a chicken by wringing its neck, and then see it run around on the ground for a few seconds afterwards if you dont hold it and then pluck it and gut it, you know preparing animals is not a pretty sight or feeling. On the mass scale, its got to be, well to use the same word again, overwhelming, but its part of life. That the treatment of humans could be analogous to this, thats the tragedy, thats the point of this whole book I am sure, thats the horror I feel Sinclair wants us to see. But again for me, he actually watered it down by a couple of pages of humanizing the hogs, right after the analogy of dehumanizing the man.


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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Read all you can

I would say to anyone, you are in the bookclub class of Sinclair's The Jungle, its a serious book, lets all read it together and discuss as we go and when we are done share our feelings on the book. I mean, rather than skip those chapters and speeches you suggest, since this is a place of discussion, wouldnt you rather that we all read them too and then see if we got the same feeling you did? Or what we thought about them that made them more alive for us? Its going to take awhile to catch up with some of you and I know I am not the only one, some may still be just getting their book, so you may have to wait some to get the opinions on things you may be excited at this point to talk about but hang in there with us and, this is just from me ok, never suggest for people what in a book NOT to read.



The ending of the book is certainly controversial for modern readers, both on account of style and its political content. You can see there the unique nature of literature in the leftist movements of the early twentieth century, and the need to transform art so that it could make a difference. The beginning, however, trades on the social realist tradition of American novels, letting you think that you are going to be reading an immigrant saga. That can no longer work, says Sinclair; the enemy is too powerful for us to immerse ourselves in the lives of fictional people.
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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Spoiler Chapter 3

It seems to me that both your interpretations of this could be correct -- that Sinclair could be both using the treatment of the hogs as a symbol for how the humans were treated with as little disregard AND attempting to invoke our empathy for the hogs as part of the general horror that the stockyard workers faced. He notes, for example, that women would cry on tours of the stockyard when they heard the hogs shrieking during slaughter. And perhaps he's underscoring there how people on the tours cried for the hogs, but not the conditions in which they saw their fellow human beings.

Speaking of Orwell, I've been thinking as I read The Jungle that Sinclair is much more of an optimist than Orwell. There's an undercurrent in Sinclair's writing that he believes his reader will be moved to action by this story. Whereas Orwell, especially by the time he wrote 1984, seems resigned to the idea that, not only will his reader be apathetic, but even if the reader is moved to action, it probably won't help.

Orwell's more cynical. Both of them were socialists, but Sinclair seemed to believe that his ideology could really rectify human misery. Orwell (probably because of his experiences in Spain) kept to his ideology, but seemed to no longer believe it would do any good even if the world embraced it.





vivico1 wrote:

Choisya wrote:
Vivico wrote:
But again for me, he actually watered it down by a couple of pages of humanizing the hogs, right after the analogy of dehumanizing the man.


But isn't the point that many humans are dehumanized and that animals behave well by comparison? There is a pre-empting of Orwell's 1984 here I think.




I don't think the point is that animals behave well, but that we may feel more sorry for an animal than a human regardless of the animal. There again, dehumanizing man. The next two pages dont talk about how well behaved animals are, but instead, shouldnt we feel so much more sorry for it and giving it human qualities.

I just prefered the whole first analogy of dehumanizing man better is all. It made me think what we were doing to man, rather than next drawing my thought to the animals. We already humanize animals too much, dress them up, feed them better, put DIAMONDS on them. I just could see the Upper class looking more at these two pages and feeling more for the animals (hence some of the acts that came out of this book anyway), instead of leaving it at the DEhumanizing of the worker that he did so well the pages before. It seemed to water down the effect, and I think it probably did for the upperclass then too.


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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Spoiler Chapter 3

[ Edited ]

JesseBC wrote:
Sinclair is much more of an optimist than Orwell. There's an undercurrent in Sinclair's writing that he believes his reader will be moved to action by this story. Whereas Orwell, especially by the time he wrote 1984, seems resigned to the idea that, not only will his reader be apathetic, but even if the reader is moved to action, it probably won't help.

Orwell's more cynical. Both of them were socialists, but Sinclair seemed to believe that his ideology could really rectify human misery. Orwell (probably because of his experiences in Spain) kept to his ideology, but seemed to no longer believe it would do any good even if the world embraced it.







Excellent excellent comparison. You're right: Orwell is deeply cynical about politics of every stripe, and wants to break down belief into linguistic manipulations. Some have even theorized that he's conservative in his suspicion of utopianism. Sinclair, on the other hand, is deeply optimistic in the most traditional socialist way: hopeful in the renovation of humanity by human means; confident in the power of enlightenment over humans. You can't imagine a more optimistic ending than "Chicago will be ours."

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 02-10-200706:04 PM

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 02-10-200706:04 PM

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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Spoiler Chapter 3

Slaughterhouse conditions have changed...sort of.

The Humane Slaughter Act wasn't passed until 1958, but it only requires that cows and pigs be knocked unconscious before slaughter and enforcement has been an ongoing problem. The USDA is frequently barred from conducting inspections and there's been video evidence of gross violations as recently as 2002. It also doesn't outlaw inhumane conditions for the animals prior to their slaughter.

And while the law may show some concern for abused animals, there's still virtually no concern about abused HUMANS in slaughterhouses. They're still staffed largely by immigrants (Mexicans these days, rather than Eastern Europeans), who are overworked, underpaid, barred from unionizing, and (recently) subjected to immigration raids where Mexicans are swept up and incarcerated without trial, along with their young children.

Here's a blog by a modern-day Jurgis: http://cyberactivist.blogspot.com/

Here's an expose on the prison conditions in which Mexicans and their children are currently being held in Texas: http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2007/02/detention_center.html





chadadanielleKR wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:
There is a well-known truism in the news business: run a story about a sick man, and you get a ho-hum; run a story about a sick dog, and you get an avalanche of sympathy. Maybe Sinclair knew what he was doing with the slaughterhouse. . . .




Indeed, Sinclair picked a very telling setting to demonstrate how much the working class suffered at the outset of the Century. Comparison between men and animals are thus easy to draw. But incidentally he might also make a point of the terrible plight of the cattle which as well as humans deserved a better treatment without unnecessary sufferings. As far as I know, the cattle is slaughtered much more decently nowadays. One of the reason being that stressed animals don't taste as good as relaxed ones!


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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Spoiler Chapter 3/ relaxed cows???

I think the reference to the "relaxed cow" is about adrenaline. When animals are being hunted, the adrenaline they produce contributes to the gamey taste of the meat. An animal being slaughtered, whose first been stunned and doesn't know what's coming, doesn't produce adrenaline and most people prefer the taste of the meat.





vivico1 wrote:

chadadanielleKR wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:
There is a well-known truism in the news business: run a story about a sick man, and you get a ho-hum; run a story about a sick dog, and you get an avalanche of sympathy. Maybe Sinclair knew what he was doing with the slaughterhouse. . . .




Indeed, Sinclair picked a very telling setting to demonstrate how much the working class suffered at the outset of the Century. Comparison between men and animals are thus easy to draw. But incidentally he might also make a point of the terrible plight of the cattle which as well as humans deserved a better treatment without unnecessary sufferings. As far as I know, the cattle is slaughtered much more decently nowadays. One of the reason being that stressed animals don't taste as good as relaxed ones!


Chadadanielle,
I dont think how we kill the animals at the slaughter houses has changed so terribly much today. What has changed more is how the parts are then handled and processed. I have to ask you though, I find it an intriguing idea....stressed animals dont taste as good as relaxed ones? lol, sorry, just had a mental picture of how do you relax a cow :smileywink: and they dont know they are going to be killed, so that cant stress them. Maybe how many are kept in a given pen, or for how long could I guess and maybe those things have changed. Supposedly we seperate the sick from the healthy before they even get to the slaughterhouse but thats only when closely regulated today too. But see, this was the problem I think Sinclair ran into when he said, I aimed at their hearts and hit their stomachs! We are back at talking about how to humanely treat the animals, which is not a bad thing for sure, but its what took away from what he wanted his book to draw attention too, not the animals but the people. Instead, yeah, how things were handled with the animal processing became the issue, cause thats what EVERYONE was eating, everyone being those who had influence.

Ok, I am still tickled by the relaxed cow :smileywink: and hope you take my image in the good humor it is meant. Nothing aimed at you, just the image of that. Good to read some new posts today, thank you for posting! :smileyhappy:


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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Read all you can

"Serious book"...you make it sound so...Not Fun :-)

I'm intrigued by your second paragraph though. What's unique about the literature of the early 20th century leftists? How is it different from modern fiction in general?

What you're describing I just took for a feature of modern fiction. You've got your Good Guys and your Bad Guys. It's clear who is who and you're not given the opportunity to empathize with the Bad Guys because empathizing wasn't something the author expected you to do.

If The Jungle were a postmodern novel, things would be different. Jurgis would be struggling with his faith, Ona would be on Zoloft, and we'd discover that the owner of the slaughterhouse has a little girl with cancer and he donates all his time and money to the Shriners. HarperCollins would have multiple publisher-gasms, market it heavily to the book clubs with a reading guide, and Upton Sinclair would appear on Oprah.





fanuzzir wrote:
I would say to anyone, you are in the bookclub class of Sinclair's The Jungle, its a serious book, lets all read it together and discuss as we go and when we are done share our feelings on the book. I mean, rather than skip those chapters and speeches you suggest, since this is a place of discussion, wouldnt you rather that we all read them too and then see if we got the same feeling you did? Or what we thought about them that made them more alive for us? Its going to take awhile to catch up with some of you and I know I am not the only one, some may still be just getting their book, so you may have to wait some to get the opinions on things you may be excited at this point to talk about but hang in there with us and, this is just from me ok, never suggest for people what in a book NOT to read.



The ending of the book is certainly controversial for modern readers, both on account of style and its political content. You can see there the unique nature of literature in the leftist movements of the early twentieth century, and the need to transform art so that it could make a difference. The beginning, however, trades on the social realist tradition of American novels, letting you think that you are going to be reading an immigrant saga. That can no longer work, says Sinclair; the enemy is too powerful for us to immerse ourselves in the lives of fictional people.


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JesseBC
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams/Spoiler Chapter 3

Oh, God...you're talking about Christopher Hitchens, aren't you? Must you? I just ate.

I'm hardly inclined to take up this "your-either-with-us-or-your-with-the-bourgeois" thing just because a human trainwreck like Hitchens think he's Orwell's second incarnation.

I was chalking the difference up to national origin. Sinclair had that progressive, can-do, up-with-people American idealism that is so often mistaken in other parts of the world for retardation. Orwell was a war-weary British expatriate, fresh from having his character assassinated by Spanish communists.

Sinclair had seen nothing and knew it all. Orwell had seen it all and knew nothing.

Besides, I think Orwell was onto something about language. We can't change what we can't name. A concept can be erased from consciousness by taking away the words to explain what it means. It's why I think Americans' obssessive aversion to bad language and confrontational communication is so dangerous.

Is it any coincidence that Noam Chomsky is also a linguist?




fanuzzir wrote:

JesseBC wrote:
Sinclair is much more of an optimist than Orwell. There's an undercurrent in Sinclair's writing that he believes his reader will be moved to action by this story. Whereas Orwell, especially by the time he wrote 1984, seems resigned to the idea that, not only will his reader be apathetic, but even if the reader is moved to action, it probably won't help.

Orwell's more cynical. Both of them were socialists, but Sinclair seemed to believe that his ideology could really rectify human misery. Orwell (probably because of his experiences in Spain) kept to his ideology, but seemed to no longer believe it would do any good even if the world embraced it.







Excellent excellent comparison. You're right: Orwell is deeply cynical about politics of every stripe, and wants to break down belief into linguistic manipulations. Some have even theorized that he's conservative in his suspicion of utopianism. Sinclair, on the other hand, is deeply optimistic in the most traditional socialist way: hopeful in the renovation of humanity by human means; confident in the power of enlightenment over humans. You can't imagine a more optimistic ending than "Chicago will be ours."

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 02-10-200706:04 PM

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 02-10-200706:04 PM




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bunny28
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams

Just getting to Chapter 4. Jurgis reminds me of that horse in 1984, so eager and optimist and yet you sense his imminent downfall
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Lean828
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Registered: ‎05-16-2007
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams

The first few chapters of this book are similar to many others dealing with the concept of the perfect American dream. Why is it that foreign born American dreams are often exaggerated and played up to the point that when foreigners actually make the trip to the States, their hopes and dreams are lost in a dog-eat-dog world of big business and consumerism? I felt sorry for Jurgis and his family; they were lied to in their homeland and suffered as a result of it. The wedding, however, seemed nice; they didn't make as much money as they thought they would, but it was nice to see how everyone worked together as a family to pull it off.
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Lean828
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Registered: ‎05-16-2007
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Re: Chapters 1-6: Foreign-born American dreams

I agree. In the beginning of the book, you want to feel as though his dreams of prosperity will come true, but in the back of your mind, it's like you know that at some point, disappointment will rear its head. The reader is happy for him, but knows that something negative will take place.
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