By Eric Homberger
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Additional info for American Writers and Radical Politics, 1900–39: Equivocal Commitments
The people whom I talked with there were settlement workers, doctors, policemen, saloon keepers, workingmen and packers' representatives. But the key that opened the most doors to me was Socialism. Representatives of the packing houses, and their interests, immediately attempted to discredit Sinclair's account of the insanitary conditions. In reply, Sinclair prepared affidavits, eye-witness accounts, legal records and other circumstantial material. He defended The Jungle in terms of verifiable truth.
I Upton Sinclair 37 decided in the negative and held to that idea until I summoned the courage to question one of my classmates in college. The truth, finally made clear, shocked me deeply, and played a great part in the making of my political revolt. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty I explored the situation in N ew York, and made discoveries that for me were epoch-making. The saloonkeeper, who had been the villain of my childhood melodrama, was merely a tool and victim of the big liquor interests and politicians and police.
The tell-tale cherry stain on her lips teaches Eden that she 'was subject to the laws of the universe just as inexorably as he was. ' Martin discovers the writings of Herbert Spencer, and through the ideas of evolution glimpses a universe obeying the laws of science and not random chance or divine will. The scientific world-view fascinates Martin, showing him an inner kinship between 'love, poetry, earthquake, fire, rattlesnakes, rainbows, precious gems, monstrosities, sunsets, the roaring of lions, illuminating gas, cannibalism, beauty, murder, levers and fulcrums, and tobacco'.