Seeing With My Own Eyes

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As I look out onto the vividly bright horizon, I watch as the sun drowns into the
blood-orange descent of another day, I remind myself of how lucky I am to be here.
Chicago is a beautiful city that roars; I describe the city to others, who have not been
fortunate enough to experience its unique essence as a misbehaving young adult
celebrating their twenty-first birthday at an open bar. The days are filled with avoiding
eye contact with other civilians on the streets and when riding public transportation,
however, the nights are filled with bright, flashing neon lights, food, and laughter. Much
like Jurgis and O na in The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, I immigrated to Chicago
and found that living i n a town of th ree to five million people isn’t as easy as others make it out to be. Jurgis is young, energetic, and in debt, much like myself. In 1904, Sinclair spent seven weeks working undercover in Chicago’s meatpacking industry to research for The Jungle, which seems to act as a political expose that addresses the conditions and the lives of poor immigrants. After my reading of Sinclair’s The Jungle, I went out to find one of these Meatpacking Factories to see if I could get some sort of inspiration to write this response. I boarded the Red Line train from Harrison; I got off the train at forty-seventh. Bus forty-three took me directly to the front gate of the Chicago Union Stockyard. The tall limestone structure topped with an ox skull, it’s thought to represent “Sherman,” a prize-winning bull named after John B. Sherman, a founder of the Union Stock Yard. When I arrived, I found a nice cedar bench residing under a large oak tree and sat down to re-read The Jungle. As I looked at the gate that once held the largest meatpacking facility in the upper midwest, I could only imagine the horrors defined by Sinclair, “There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms, and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it.” (Jonathan Ochocki/ CoS Student)

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