18 February 2010
Ignorance by Upton Sinclair.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is a novel brimming with the profound sense of heart break through its portrayal of the hardships faced by the countless poverty stricken laborers in slaughter houses of Chicago. It follows a Lithuanian immigrant family and their struggles to survive. They come to America in pure ignorance bliss. "He had said that in Lithuania when one official had taken his passport from him, and another had arrested him for being without it, and the two had divided a third of his belongings. He had said it again in New York, when the smooth-spoken agent had taken them
In hand and made them pay such high prices, and almost prevented their leaving his place, in spite of their paying. Now he said it a third time, and Ona drew a deep breath; it was so wonderful to have a husband, just like a grown woman--and a husband who could solve all problems, and who was so big and strong!" The experience in New York did not make them any the wiser to the scams that were pulled on the ignorant immigrants that migrated to America by the shipload. It made them hold a little harder to their money and Jurgis motto of working harder came into play.
The characters’ in the story are a bit flat but the message pushed by Sinclair is vivid enough for anyone to grasp. Sinclair paints a lively landscape of the coming 20th century. He uses the poor and ignorance of immigrates to get the message across.
When they first arrived in Chicago, Jurgis just knew he was going to get work. He did, for Jurgis was a big strong man, He was warned by his more enlightened colleagues that the system was flawed but he did not believe them. He believed that Brown and Durham was good and the men complaining were lazy scum.
They say ignorance is bliss and in the novel, sometimes the ignorance is the bliss. Dede Antanas was ignorant to the fact; he was not getting his jobs back. He thought his coughing attacks would cease and he would go back to work. Jurgis paid people to tell his father that his position was safe; when, in fact, he had long lost his job with Durham. Jurgis believed so hard in the system he knew little about. “So, after all, there was a crack in the fine structure of Jurgis' faith in things as they are. The crack was wide while Dede Antanas was hunting a job—and it was yet wider when he finally got it. For one evening the old man came home in a great state of excitement, with the tale that he had been approached by a man in one of the corridors of the pickle rooms of Durham's, and asked what he would pay to get a job. He had not known what to make of this at first; but the man had gone on with matter-of-fact frankness to say that he could get him a job, provided that he were willing to pay one-third of his wages for it.”
Sinclair uses ignorance in many vibrant ways. "'No," she answered, 'I don't blame you. We never have--any of us. You did your best--the job was too much for us.' She paused a moment, then added: 'we were too ignorant--that was the trouble. We didn't stand any chance. If I'd known what I know now, we'd have won out.'" Marija spoke this. She was there through he struggle and had turned into a whore.
Jurgis had hit Ona’s foreman for making her dishonor his marriage bed. Ona was working in a ham-packing place. Her forewoman was a madam and in order for Ona and her family to keep all their jobs, she had to sleep with Phil Connors. While Sinclair uses such a dry explanation for it, the language still hits you emotionally. Jurgis, in a fit of rage, decided to hit a boss. Once again, the ignorance that Jurgis has shines. They knew, all the readers knew what the consequences would be but Jurgis himself.
Thus Jurgis was sentenced to thirty days in jail. Even in jail, ignorance surrounded Jurgis. He did have the money to pay for the added “Court costs,” he had to work for three more days.
Jurgis ruined his family, moving them to losing their house, jobs and forcing them to move back to the garret. His ignorance drove his family to ultimate disgrace and ruin.
Sometimes, as one reads the book, you wonder why Upton wrote such a tale. You wonder if people really were as ignorant as he writes. It is a tale that can easily relatable to any age. If one imagines a Mexican family as Jurgis family, it is the same, with better meat.
May 23rd 2010
“Mortal edicts nullified the laws of heaven”
A tragedy is a play that makes a human suffering enjoyable to an audience. The audience can see the flaw the larger than life hero possesses but loses in a bout of self pity, jealousy or anger. People often associate death with tragedies but that is not true. Sometimes the death brings out the flaw in the so-called hero. Aristotle once said, “Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of actions. Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments." When one reads a tragedy, keep in mind and try to identify the actions imitated. Both Antigone and Oedipus Rex fit into Aristotle definition for tragedies perfectly.
In Oedipus Rex, the play begins with a curse on the beloved city of Thebes. It was caused by someone who killed King Laius, last king of Thebes before Oedipus. This sends Oedipus, king of Thebes on a rampage trying to bring end to the cure but in the end bringing only his demise. It imitates men desire to always find out the truth no matter what the consequences might be. He was warned that if he kept searching for answers, he would not like what he found. It is relevant to today. People search and search for many answers to question which should never be answered. Oedipus learned what he had done and suddenly his world fall apart. He learned his wife was also his mother. Thus furthermore making his children his siblings, in turn to the fact all his future grandchildren his nieces and nephews. He had a really messed up family tree. His zealous search for the truth reveled what he did not want to know and brought around the end of his days. It also evokes pity for Oedipus. Due to dramatic irony the audience knows the inevitable. While making us feel bad for Oedipus we cannot help but feel anger, as many warnings came to Oedipus. His own wife told him not to search anymore; she did not want to hear the answers she feared awaited them.
“Then thou mayest ease thy conscience on that score. Listen and I'll convince thee that no man Hath scot or lot in the prophetic art.” Jocasta tells him to pay no mind to the prophet, Tiresias, she said all prophets are false but the audience realizes that she already fears what he will find. Tiresias tells Oedipus that the man who killed King Laius will also be brother to his own children and the son of his wife. King Laius was doomed to be killed by his son. Oedipus is so obsessed with finding the truth he is unable to see what is right before him. He is blinded by knowledge. Some things are better off not know
Oedipus is too intelligence to let things just go. He is also very arrogant and with that metaphorical blindness along with curiosity makes up his flaws. His intelligence drives him to find the truth out no matter how destructive the results may be. He is so driven to find the truth and help his people, he allows his own downfall.