Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
Attention to language and style is certainly not a major hallmark of this novel. Sinclair is more concerned with getting information and political ideas across than he is with lyricism and character development. His sentences are often long and unwieldy and at one point the author even appears confused about the name of Jurgis' employer. In Chapter 3, the reader learns that Jurgis is employed at Brown's. However, later in the book, as for instance in chapter 11, Jurgis' employer is mentioned as Durham's, although Jurgis has not switched jobs.
Sinclair creates some atmosphere by using a smattering of Lithuanian and Polish words and packing house jargon. Apart from this and the accented language spoken by the midwife Madame Haupt, there is little localism used. Many characters speak like either stereotypes or mouthpieces for Sinclair
Despite his focus on message over language, Sinclair's turns of phrase are often lyrical and moving. At times the language is Biblical in its grandeur, when for instance, Sinclair describes Jurgis' battle with the blizzard, and on occasion it is pregnant with emotion. Describing the drifting apart of Jurgis and Ona, Sinclair writes, "their dreams were buried in separate graves." Sinclair may not have paid great attention to his characters as literary creations, but he certainly felt strongly about the real human beings his characters circumstances were meant to represent.