Rhetorical Analysis of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle The Jungle, being a persuasive novel in nature, is filled with different rhetorical devices or tools used by Sinclair to effectively convey his message. Sinclair’s goal of encouraging change in America’s economic structure is not an easy feat and Sinclair uses a number of different rhetorical devices to aid him. Through his intense tone, use of periodic sentencing, descriptive diction and other tools of rhetoric, Upton Sinclair constructs a moving novel that makes his message, and the reasoning behind it, clear.
Sinclair’s use of periodic sentences allows him to cram details and supporting evidence into his sentence before revealing his interpretation of the evidence. Take for example, “Here was a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation, and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers; under such circumstances immorality was exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it was under the system of chattel slavery. ” (Sinclair 88).
By formatting his idea that low-class, working immigrants in America live in circumstances easily comparable to slavery into a periodic sentence, Sinclair is able to give supporting detail after supporting detail as to why this is true while saving his conclusion for the end. This allows the reader to go through the natural process of thinking, making observations and then forming a conclusion. The conclusion, that these immigrants are practically slaves, becomes the reader’s own conclusion. The tone throughout The Jungle is intense and at times disturbing.
This serves Sinclair by helping to show the dire importance of his message and why the reader should care about what he has to say. If Sinclair’s novel lacked this intense tone, his depictions of the appalling living conditions of lower class immigrants in America would have been less moving; therefor his solution to the problem would be of less importance.
If Sinclair had not gone into such disturbing detail when saying, “All day long the blazing midsummer sun beat down upon that square mile of abominations: upon tens of housands of cattle crowded into pens whose wooden floors stank and steamed contagion; upon bare, blistering, cinder-strewn railroad tracks, and huge blocks of dingy meat factories, whose labyrinthine passages defied a breath of fresh air to penetrate them; and there were not merely rivers of hot blood, and carloads of moist flesh, and rendering vats and soap caldrons, glue factories and fertilizer tanks, that smelt like the craters of hell—there were also tons of garbage festering in the sun, and the greasy laundry of the workers hung out to dry, and dining rooms littered with food and black with flies, and toilet rooms that were open sewers. ”, then the audience would lack the proper motivation to change the status quo (Sinclair 225). By horrifying his audience with the brutal truth, Sinclair secures a proper response and wish for change from his audience. His tone gives fuel to his cause by effectively showing his audience why his cause is worth fighting for.
Sinclair’s use of descriptive, in depth diction serves to promote a reaction out of the reader, by depicting as thorough as possible his evidence and reasoning, similar to the purpose of his intense tone. However, this descriptive diction does more than just provoke a response out his audience as his tone does, it also strengthens the supporting evidence and reasoning behind his message. Describing the horrible work and living conditions in depth, Sinclair gives the reader every dehumanizing aspect of the poor workers life so that the reader can best understand just how bad it truly is. Therefor his in depth description of the life of a poor immigrant worker is crucial to the effectiveness of his novel. In The Jungle there are many times where dialogue between immigrants is accurately portrayed through Sinclair’s appropriate syntax.
He uses sentence structures respective to how an immigrant of a certain nationality would speak to make the fictional story come to life. This is extremely important because if Sinclair’s fictional story of an immigrant worker named Jurgis going through the shocking struggles of a poor worker comes off as an unrealistic dramatization, then Sinclair’s message will be deemed unimportant by his audience and his credibility hindered. Sinclair’s use of realistic syntax makes the story itself more realistic, thus aiding the fictional story’s relevance to the real world and helping Sinclair reach his goal of convincing his audience of his reasoning.
The effective use of rhetorical devices is essential in writing an effective persuasive-novel. After analysis of the different devices used in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, it is obvious that Sinclair’s masterful use of intense tone, periodic sentencing, descriptive diction, and appropriate syntax respective to immigrants, all aid Sinclair in his attempt to achieve political and economic change in America. Whether it be by strengthening his argument, bringing his story to life, describing every heinous fact to the last gruesome detail, or giving a sense of urgency to his message, Sinclair’s use of rhetorical devices greatly aid his message in his incredibly moving novel, The Jungle.