Teaching Students About ‘The Jungle’ and Its Protagonist, Jurgis: Exploring Social Realities


The Jungle, a novel by Upton Sinclair, tells the story of Jurgis Rudkus, a young immigrant who comes to America in search of a better life. The book exposes the harsh realities faced by immigrants and the working class in the early 20th century. Teaching students about The Jungle and its protagonist Jurgis Rudkus is crucial in understanding the historical context and significance of this literary work.

Lesson Goals and Objectives

Incorporating The Jungle into classroom discussions can help students:

1. Develop critical thinking skills by analyzing the themes, characters, and plot.

2. Understand the historical context of immigration and labor conditions in the early 20th century.

3. Cultivate empathy and awareness of social issues through literature.

Preparing for the Lesson

Before introducing The Jungle to your students, take these steps to set up for an engaging discussion:

1. Familiarize yourself with the book: Read The Jungle, taking notes on key events and themes.

2. Research: Gain an understanding of the historical context surrounding immigration, labor laws, and socio-political issues addressed in the book.

3. Gather resources: Collect supplementary materials such as articles, videos, and interviews that support your lessons on the novel.

Teaching Strategies

1. Begin with an engaging hook: Start your lesson with a thought-provoking question or activity to spark curiosity in your students about Jurgis Rudkus’ journey.

2. Incorporate multimedia resources: Show documentaries or clips from film adaptations of The Jungle to provide visual context for students.

3. Encourage group discussion: Promote active learning by dividing students into small groups and allowing them to share their thoughts on different aspects of the story.

4. Assign creative projects: Encourage students to create artistic expressions (e.g., drawings, poems), presentations or essays related to themes or events in The Jungle as a way to foster deeper comprehension and engagement.

5. Connect the story to current events: Discuss how themes from The Jungle are still relevant today, such as workers’ rights, immigration, and societal inequalities. Encourage students to research and debate contemporary issues related to these themes.

Assessing Student Understanding

To gauge your students’ understanding of The Jungle and its main character Jurgis Rudkus, consider implementing the following assessment activities:

1. Comprehension quiz: Create a multiple-choice or short-answer quiz focused on key plot points, characters, and themes.

2. In-depth analysis: Assign essays that require students to analyze significant passages, themes or characters in the novel.

3. Class discussions: Observe student participation in group discussions to evaluate their understanding and engagement with the material.

4. Creative projects’ evaluations: Review the artistic expressions or presentations created by students for alignment with the concepts explored in the novel.


Teaching students about The Jungle and its memorable protagonist Jurgis Rudkus offers an opportunity to engage them with important historical context and societal issues through literature. Implementing interactive activities, multimedia resources, and fostering active discussions can help students develop critical thinking skills while instilling empathy for the challenges faced by immigrants in pursuit of better lives.

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