Sunday, November 9, 2014

US! by Chris Bachelder

In comparing U.S.! by Chris Bachelder with The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, both two symbolic pieces of the work by Bachelder and Sinclair, one can find many melodramatic elements in both novels.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair not only incorporates the simplest element: the obvious separation between the good and bad guys, it also incorporates a downward spiraling storyline. In melodrama, it there seems to be a very obvious fate set for the characters that cannot be changed or affected by the behavior of the characters but by environmental factors. The characters involved in the meat-packing industry are on a downward spiral that seems inescapable. Melodrama also often introduces the "homespun, often undying clothing of the working class and peasantry" (Bousquet) as the good. Where there are millionaires, there are socialists (Bachelder), and in The Jungle, the socialists are represented as the good. In contrast, the "top hates of the aristocracy" (Bousquet) are considered the villains, just like in The Jungle where the bosses are involved in corruption and prostitution. "The reward of virtue is only a secondary manifestation of the recognition of virtue" (Bousquet). According to Sinclair, what is virtuous is obviously the workers union and the socialist party, and the goal of the novel was more so to deliver this message as opposed to showing the workers union and socialist party succeed.

In U.S.! by Chris Bachelder, there are also two sides of good and evil: those helping Upton Sinclair rise from the dead and those opposed to him. Sinclair "was once considered a middy important figure in American literature and politics who wrote scores of so-called novels illustrating the plight and sordid working conditions of the poor" (Bachelder). Bachelder plays both sides, convincing us through melodramatic rhetoric that the writing style of Sinclair's is no longer convincing to us because it was so melodramatic. The irony and satire in U.S.! cannot be overseen. Overall, Bachelder is not against Sinclair's point of view as he is against his delivery. In the second part of U.S.!, Sinclair is about to publish a new novel titled A Moveable Jungle! which is an "exposé of corporate outsourcing and of the wretched working conditions of foreign employees" (Bachelder). As he ridicules the way Sinclair tries to stay relevant today, Bachelder ironically helps Sinclair stay relevant because every author is resurrected when we talk about them, in whatever way. "The Left may be dead, but the feat and hatred of the Left will never die. It's an American passion" (Bachelder) is a good overview quote that represents the way the socialist movement was in back in the days of Sinclair is no longer where America is at. A big part of melodrama is irony, and U.S.! by Chris Bachelder definitely uses this technique in every sense of the word, critiquing the left views and Upton Sinclair's writing, but ironically, at the same time, by doing this, promotes it and resurrects Sinclair from the grave by a world that still needs him.

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