Essay On The Jungle And Things Fall Apart

1070 words - 5 pages

The Jungle and Things Fall Apart

Frederick Douglass once said "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."  Frederick Douglass was a runaway slave turned abolitionist, and while his history is quite amazing, what is even more intriguing is that this quote sums up the theme behind two books that have nothing to do with slavery or each other. One can conclude, therefore, that oppression, whether by law, in tradition, or by circumstance, is a universal theme.  It's sting knows no bounds, ...view middle of the document...

  Happiness based on such unpredictable circumstances, is subject, as are all things, to change.  When Chicago's packing industry turned on Jurgis and his family their faith, their dreams, and their hopes were shattered.  When even some of the traditions of old were shattered so was Okonkwo and all he stood for.  These people, dependant on things they can not control, suffer the same fate, the same bad luck, and as a result they lose all they have worked for.

Jurgis and Okonkwo are both remarkable and driven men determined to succeed no matter the odds.  They were gifted with strength and a work ethic to match.  Jurgis is driven by his love for Ona and later by the sheer will to survive.  Okonkwo is driven by his desire to not be labeled a failure and be thought of as a woman.  Jurgis and Okonkwo are honorable men who are just looking for their fair share. Both men look to escape poverty through work and have their homes taken from them, Jurgis by scheming agents, Okonkwo by exile.  Jurgis and Okonkwo find themselves imprisoned unjustly for crimes they were forced to commit.  They both later return to the lands where they eked out their meager existence to find their worlds shattered, falling apart. In the end, despite valiant efforts on both of their parts, they are conquered by societies of white men who care not for their desperate struggles.  Their ignorance of the cultures that surround them, and the worlds indifference to the plight of men, lead to their downfall.  Jurgis, in the end, finds solace in socialism; Okonkwo, meets his peace in death.

Symbolism also plays a key role in The Jungle and Things Fall Apart.    The Chicago packing yards are symbolic of the life Jurgis will lead.  The great packing machine takes animals, used them for all they are worth, and then spits them back out when they no longer are considered useful.  In the same way, the industry takes Jurgis while he is young and strong, works him for all he is worth, and spits him back out.  Jurgis saw his opportunity with the company and in...

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