“Fast Food Nation” is a novel written by Eric Schlosser who is a journalist reporting on the food industry. He focuses more on the hazardous conditions and effects of eating fast foods.
He explains that Americans are a people that are addicted to the products of fast food. This book is compared to The Jungle which is written by another journalist Upton Sinclair. He gives the journey of a Lithuanian family, who travelled to the United States just to experience the American Dream. His expectation was shattered because he encountered the opposite.
The family strives to get their way to survive in Chicago through the means of coning. Both books have a similar theme concerning the health of the people of America and the working conditions of people in the meat packing industry. For a deeper analysis of this subject, we will be comparing and contrasting between two major characters of each novel. The character in Fast Food Nation is known as Jurgis Rudkus while the major character in The Jungle is Kenney Dobbins.
Starting with the similarities, they both had good character and integrity in their lives. In the beginning of the literature The Jungle, Jurgis was young strong and an honest man. Kenny had a high level of integrity to his work and family. As much as there were hardships on his way, he focused on doing the things that are right and giving his best for the company regardless of the poor working conditions. They both worked for a meat packing industry.
Kenney was carrying crates weighing 120 pounds in a meat packing company called Monfort Slaughterhouse. His job was to carry heavy weights of meat. On the other hand Jurgis was digging tunnels. The name of the meat packing company is not specified but the location is in Chicago. Both their jobs required hard hours of labor. Of course such kinds of working opportunities were paying little with much to be done. Both Kenney and Jurgis were striving to have better lives for their families.
In each novel, both Kenney and Jurgis get injuries while they were working. One day as Kenney was working, a crate weighing ninety pounds fell from the top level and was about to crash him. He managed to catch it but he went out of balance and caused an injury on his back (Schlosser 187). He severely herniated two of his back disks. Jurgis also attained injuries due to the labor of digging tunnels. Both of them got no serious medical attention that should have been provided by the company.
The working conditions in both situations were poor. They became victims to the bitterness of life. Life had a way of causing oppression in their lives. According to Kenney, it was his employer while Jurgis was poverty in a foreign land. They both had challenges in their marriage but providers for their families. They were both young, Kenney was 24 years old but Jurgis age was given no specification.
Looking at the differences, Jurgis was a foreigner who travelled from Eastern Europe to America in such of a better living. He was a Lithuanian and could speak both polish and Lutheran (Sinclair 2). On the other hand, Kenny was a born American. In line with character and integrity, Kenney was able to maintain the good moral.
Regardless of how much his employer was oppressing him with harsh working conditions, he never gave up and stayed committed to his employer. Jurgis started off as a man of integrity but the pressures of life made him stray away. Wanting to survive in the harsh reality in America, he forgot every good moral he had and began conning, mugging people and turned out to be a criminal.
Kenney lost his wife through divorce while Jurgis lost his wife through child birth. He lacked the finances to pay for her medical bills. Another difference between the two characters is joining of unions. Kenney refused to involve himself with unions. He considered them as groups that build a bad reputation from the employer’s perspective. Jurgis on the other hand, involves himself into a strong labor union and socialism. He also got to be part of a socialist rally. Kenney ended up being fired and living in a horrible health.
He lost his job without any valid reason and was given no compensation. Jurgis’ involvement in the unions made him have a better life and the union rights were able to secure his position in the factory. Through socialism activities he got to be converted to a religious person and began going for missions.
It has been clearly seen that in both novels, there is a similar concept and theme while at the same time, the approach is different. The major characters in both novels have endured hardship, disappointments and bitterness. They also had different characteristic depending on the kind of circumstances. The two characters Kenney and Jurgis have helped the world to realize the kind of conditions that are in the meat packing industries.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. Print.
Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Doubleday, Jabber & Company, 1906. Print.