Since I did not have much of a familiarity with Upton Sinclair’s works, I ended up having to familiarize myself by skimming over The Jungle and King Coal. The first thing that stuck out to me was the usage of emotional melodramatic elements in these books in order to raise awareness and bring about change in the existing political system in America. Even though I did not actually take the time to read the entire book, The Jungle I started feeling extremely sympathetic with Jurgis which clearly shows the extensive uses of emotions evoking elements in this work. The way I perceived Sinclair’s works was by looking at the as novel-like manifestos. They were meant to evoke a certain emotional response against the existing capitalistic state. The daily struggles of the lower class were portrayed so that the audience could actually feel the pain and realize the evil nature of capitalism. This realization was meant to then be followed by the understanding of the virtuous and heroic nature of socialism.
Chris Bachelder does a phenomenal job of familiarizing his readers with Sinclair’s works and shrewdly admiring his political beliefs at the same time with extensive uses of sarcasm. Bachelder believes that even though Sinclair’s political view might not be completely prevalent in today’s society but there are many noteworthy points that if modernized, can change the society for the better. For example in the section Every Knock is a Boost, the publisher of the Lanny Budd series says that Lanny belongs to the early- to mid-twentieth century and therefore they need a “younger hero” to whom the modern-day audience can relate (193). Therefore, in the book U.S.! Sinclair is assassinated and resurrected whenever socialism is hated or needed in a certain situation. This constant dying and resurrecting of Sinclair is meant to show the constant struggle in our society and the great need of a socialistic political system in America.
It is not hard to notice many melodramatic characteristics in Upton Sinclair’s works as well as Bachelder’s book U.S.!, as both of them use make use of emotion evoking elements to promote socialism. Sinclair does so by writing about the everyday lives of the lower class, sometimes through overdramatizing their struggles to show the sense urgency for change. He tries to make his audience sympathize with the characters in the story by portraying socialism as the hero, the people of the lower class as the victims and the anti-socialists as the villains. Bachelder, writing his book only 8 years ago, believes that although the way Sinclair portrayed socialism might be old fashioned but if modernized, it can still have a great influence, improving the lives of the lower class people. Therefore, he mocks some of Sinclair’s writings to grab the attention of his readers and then takes his readers through the second half of the book where he focuses more on very specific problems in society and how Sinclair would react to them. Hence, Upton Sinclair and Bachelder both see the need for socialism in society and both use many melodramatic elements in order to present those needs to their audience.