Emma’s Outline

Emma Chanen

Professor Dimock

Final Paper Outline


Communism, Socialism, and Historical Political Movements

  1. Introduction
    1. Outline appearances in books
      1. In Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Jurgis is attracted to the socialist/communist movement in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century.
      2. In Richard’s Wright’s Chicago novel Native Son, Mary, Jan, and Max represent communist beliefs.
      3. POINT OF COMPARISON. Far from Chicago and many years later, in San Francisco, Phil defends communism in Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate.
  • Thesis: The underlying political tension in The Jungle, Native Son, and The Golden Gates demonstrates the characters’ frustration with unfair social and political systems. The presence of communism heightens the conflict and provides a drastic alternative to the injustice of the worlds of the characters.
  1. The Jungle
    1. Brief description of sociopolitical climate of turn of the century Chicago (corruption, horror of the meat packing industry)
    2. In The Jungle, after his first exposure, Jurgis almost immediately buys into the concept of socialism.
    3. Evidence to use
      1. Begin with Jurgis’s slow adoption of the ideas behind unions. He is first resistant, but he eventually works for the unions.
      2. Corruption within capitalism that made his swift transformation possible.
        1. Ona’s rape
        2. Comedic interlude/exposure to the other side of Chicago
        3. Meat poisoning
        4. Getting blacklisted
  • The final speech as Sinclair’s call to arms to institute democratic socialism.
  • Jurgis falls into communism because he has been so beaten down by the system of a corrupt Chicago that he sees no other solutions to the misery he and others have endured.
  • Sinclair uses his novel and his muckraking journalism to highlight the injustice in Chicago.
  • The appearance of communism represents a call to an overhaul of the system and attempts resolve some of the conflict (or at least provide a ray of hope) at the end of an unrelentingly depressing novel. It provides the only way out.
  • Native Son
    1. Though Native Son, like The Jungle, advocates for a more socialist system, it does not propose that it is a perfect or all-encompassing solution.
    2. Brief history about Wright
      1. Wrote during the first Red Scare
      2. Involved in the Communist party
    3. Evidence to use
      1. Mary and Jan taking Bigger out.
      2. Jan and Max, though clearly not perfect, attempt to know Bigger as a human being. This aligns them and their political party with justice.
  • Max’s taking Bigger’s case.
  1. Max’s argument about the housing shortage and cornering Dalton about discrimination.
  2. Max explaining Bigger’s oppression to Dalton.
  3. Not only does Wright support communism, but he sets up capitalism as the bad guy through Buckley and Dalton.
  • Max’s final speech in comparison to the long speech at the end of The Jungle both as the authors’ mini communist manifestos and call for better political systems based on unresolvable injustice.
  1. Wright attacks capitalism and celebrates communism by associating his sympathetic characters with the party, but he also acknowledges that communism cannot solve all the problems of an oppressive system.
  2. Even Max and Jan are not enough to save Bigger and dismantle the structures of injustice that put him in his position.
  3. He does, though, express the importance of a new political system to solve the corruption within the city of Chicago and America as a whole. He, like Sinclair, weaves his own beliefs into his novel.
  1. The Golden Gate
    1. The Golden Gate is set halfway across the country and decades after both The Jungle and Native Son.
    2. The chaos of America’s political system still plays an important role in the plot of the novel, though.
    3. The political conflict, because of its context in the time of the Cold War, is not as focused on domestic injustice as it is with the overall warmongering character of the country at that time.
    4. Because of this difference in conflict, the solution is less focused on communism, but it still addresses communism directly and does focus on dismantling the evil capitalist structures that allow for the atrocities of the day.
    5. Like Sinclair and Wright, Seth uses his novel to define his ideal for the course of political action and discourse in the face of seemingly unsolvable issues in America.
    6. Evidence to use
      1. Seth describing devotion to the Chip and how Silicon Valley is being used for evil
      2. The conflict between John and Phil
        1. John is mad that Phil left his job because Phil was the best
        2. John maybe has doubts about whether or not he himself is doing the right thing.
        3. Angry at Phil for corrupting Liz
        4. Drops off the pamphlets for John and Liz
  • The rally and the speech from O’Hare in comparison to the long speeches in the other two novels. Each author uses a long passage to blatantly describe the problems he sees in the world.
  1. Phil describing the time in jail and the planning that his movement is doing.
  2. Liz leaving John, which shows that he’s on the wrong side
  1. Seth uses the novel to condemn nuclear weapons and supporting the war industry.
  2. By aligning his sympathetic characters with the peace movement, he, in the context of a different time and place, uses the same strategies as Sinclair and Wright to support a political movement and condemn the contemporary state of affairs.
  1. Conclusion
    1. Sinclair, Wright, and Seth use their novels to express their own political beliefs.
    2. They all use their characters to spout long speeches on what is wrong and how it can be fixed in some way.
    3. By creating unresolvable tensions and their novels and providing systemic overhauls as potential solutions, the authors make influential political statements for their times.

Once again, WordPress doesn’t recognize the formatting, so if it’s easier, I can send a word document.


Emma —

A great topic that allows you to go back and forth between history and fiction, and between The Jungle and Native Son.  These two novels do belong together, each illuminated by the shared lens of socialism/communism; The Golden Gate less so.   The essay would probably work better if you limit yourself to just the two Chicago novels, organized around the question: “How redemptive  is Socialism?”   You can make the same points that you already do — for instance,  about Richard Wright’s misgivings — but the sharper focus would give the essay a clearer direction and a stronger  sense of purpose.





This is really really great. Your structure has a nice flow to it and allows you to make great connections and companions with ease. My only real comment/suggestion might be to mention the efficacy of the way the novels deal present this political chaos. For example, we know that The Jungle is more remembered for the food/health reform it brought rather than bringing down the corrupt capitalist system etc. Of course focusing on this is not as important as what lovely work you already have laid out, but I think it could be an interesting point of analysis in the conclusion.
Enjoy your weekend!

Comments are closed.