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This section of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is very rich with many different rhetorical techniques. The section begins with character ethos establishing that the characters are very aware of the horrors that the author is going to describe. Since Sinclair wants to go into the awful meatpacking conditions, he correctly sets up characters that are experts in the horrors that he is going to describe. By creating experts, he establishes his credibility and gains the trust of the audience in this manner. Following this sentence, Sinclair uses a more formal sounding sentence to get his point across, describes the meat with more formal diction (instead of rotten he says “spoiled”) and blends it with more informal diction and shorter words like “chop” This creates a mechanical and disgusting feeling with the reader. Before he transfers to a more vivid pathos heavy section, Sinclair then uses another established character, Jonas, to give more knowledge of the horrific conditions. He then uses a repeated phrase from earlier in the text that he will repeat many more times about the horrific conditions. This phrase is clever and cynical and uses simple language from the working class of the time.
Jonas, the previously established expert then uses many short and simple words such as “sour”, “chopped” and “odor” to speak as to how the meatpackers can transform rancid meat into “edible meat”. It is very vivid and creates a mental picture that disgusts the reader with this diction. As well, Sinclair uses asyndeton to put all of these horrible things in a list and without using conjunctions, it is almost like they are being brought on like an onslaught. It feels almost mechanic yet crude, which I think is what Sinclair went for. In the next sentence, Sinclair then proceeds to use some meatpacking jargon (or special terms for a field) and uses some more formal diction. He does this because he wants us to see it in a more sophisticated light and still see that it is absolutely vile, which the reader correctly will.
Sinclair then describes the process of making rancid meat “good” again and he uses very vivid pathos in describing the odor, the pickling process, the heating of the meat bones and many more aspects of the process. It is thoroughly descriptive and revolting. Following this, Sinclair then describes many commercially known products and using slang of the time, he describes what these products that the general public eats really and truly are. By doing, this he gives his audience quite an upset stomach. Sinclair then goes into the process of making sausage by using more vivid pathos, backed by jargon (“flyers”) and more formal descriptive words about the process. Sinclair uses also, in this sentence and the next, polysyndeton to describe the horrible processes in their disgusting order. He goes further describing the storing conditions and the rat dung that often cakes the sausages, more pathos, and uses periodic sentences that keep the reader moving on to see how much worse it gets. Almost always it gets worse furthering Sinclair’s points. These sentences are all happening at the same time or could, and this parallelism creates a sense of disgust that so much could go wrong at the same time. His usage of polysyndeton in the next sentence again creates this horrible feeling and one could argue it is also again parallelism. Sinclair then makes a comparison to fairy stories and culture and by doing this and stating that it is fact, he gives it a more serious tone and makes the reader realize how grave the situation is.
Next, he makes a witty and disgusting statement about there being worse things going into the meat than rats, and combined with all of the things that he had previously established, it really grasps the reader. This was the section, after all, that brought about the FDA and the Meat Inspection Act. Using more descriptive pathos and asyndeton he describes the way that the sausage is processed and creates the previously discussed feelings as well. He goes into a slight tiff about the packing bosses and their capitalist agenda, but he reorganizes his focus and describes the worse things that go into the meat. He is anchoring the abstract construct that he previously created and uses short, blunt words such as “dirt”, “dust”, “nail”, “stale”, and “rust” to put the short disgusting things into the reader’s mind as being in the meat. It creates a mechanical and almost inhuman feel to it and the reader is thoroughly disgusted and on Sinclair’s side at this point. He continues to do this until the end of the section such as “stamp” and wrap” and other short mechanical verbs that take the human aspect out of the meatpacking industry. We as the readers, think often times or visualize that our meats come from an old german butcher or the like and by making it disgusting, non human, and mechanical, Sinclair destroys this image and replaces it with his own horror.
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