The Jungle and Readers Responnse

Author: Matthew Tidwell
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 3 Class Periods
2 hour

Class copies of Chapter 14 from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
Copy of questions for Chapter 14
Poster paper and markers

Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle as a way to expose the atrocities that took place in the meat packing industry in Chicago. Having students read an excerpt from this piece of literature gives them insight into the working conditions during the Industrial Revolution. To respond to the reading, a jigsaw activity is a great way for students to work collaboratively on comprehension skills. This jigsaw allows students to deal specifically with information from the text they read in class.

1. The students will identify the conditions that many workers faced during the Industrial Revolution.

2. The students will work collaboratively to explain and identify key elements from Chapter 14 of The Jungle

Strand 2
Concept 1
PO 1: Evaluate the author’s use of literary elements.
PO 3: Analyze the way in which the theme or meaning of a selection represents a view or comment on life, providing textual evidence for the identified theme.

Strand 1
Concept 6
PO 2: Generate clarifying questions in order to comprehend text.

Teacher Background
The teacher should read through the selection at least  twice to familiarize him/herself with the plot, characters, and situations. In addition, the teacher will want to become familiar with the background of the text. Why did Upton Sinclair write this story and what were the results of its publication?

A jigsaw activity is a great way for students to work collaboratively and focus on comprehension. This jigsaw will allow students to deal specifically with information from the text they read in class. The students are divided up equally into small groups, usually 4 students per group. Each student should be assigned a role: Director—keeps group on task, Recorder—records the answers of the groups, Expert—makes sure the group’s information is accurate, and Reporter—reports the findings to the rest of the class

Resource Websites
The Literature Network Chapter 14 http://www.literature-web.net/view.php/jungle/14?term=hoppers
The Literature Network Upton Sinclair http://www.online-literature.com/upton_sinclair/




Distribute copies of Chapter 14 to each student.

2. Read through the selection in class. Ask for volunteers or assign students to read out loud.

3. It would be beneficial for the teacher to stop periodically to check for understanding. Ask questions relevant to what has been read, review the plot, and emphasize images.

4. Divide students into collaborative groups. Students should move desks so that they can      work closely.

5. Pass out questions to each group. Assign a certain number of questions to each group. Groups will only do what questions are assigned to them. They will be the experts of these questions.

  • What two things could be done with spoiled meat?
  • What did the miracles of chemistry do for the meat packing industry?
  • Describe some of the methods used to “improve” the hams.
  • Describe the environment in which the sausages were created.
  • What “other” ingredients often made it into the sausages?
  • What was the one mercy the daily grind of work gave to Elzbieta? Describe this.
  • Why were Ona, Elbieta, and Jurgis beaten?
  • What was Juregis’ personal trouble?
  • What was happening with Antanas?
  • How was Ona going to pieces?

6. Allow groups time to work on their assigned questions. They should record their answers on the poster paper, so that they have a visual aid when they do their presentations.

7. When each group has had enough time to respond to their questions, move into the reporting phase.

8. Inform students that, in a sense, they are teaching the rest of the class about their questions.

9. Each group should come up one at a time with their visual aid and go over their responses with the rest of the class.

10. Ask questions that direct students to make predictions about the impact of the book. Ask them what they thought of the images conjured up by the writing.

11. In a guided reflection at the end of class ask students what the impacts of the book/chapter might be and then have them compare these with what is said in the brief biography of Upton Sinclair. (Give students background on the book and author. (http://www.online-literature.com/upton_sinclair/

12. Explain that The Jungle was pivotal in changing the food laws in the United States. Upon publication in 1906 it prompted a government investigation of the meat packing plants in Chicago and the subsequent development of regulations.

13. Ask students if they are able to identify any other works of fiction that have changed the society of the time or later. 

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Are students able to identify key elements during discussion of chapter 14?
As students work on their three questions are they able to identify some of the working conditions described in The Jungle?
Students should show ability to condense the information from the chapter and make decisions on real-world impacts of Sinclair’s writing.  Students should explore the importance of literature/writing in decision making and progress in the “real” world.




PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: March 7, 2007
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