Upton Sinclair's King Coal

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From 1884-1912, the coal mines of Colorado claimed over 1,700 deaths, twice the national average (“A History”). Coal camps of this time were dangerous places to live and work. Yet, thousands of immigrants braved these barbaric conditions to bring pennies home to their poverty stricken families. This life was the basis of Upton Sinclair’s book, King Coal: a Novel. His book focuses on a college student, Hal Warner, who wanted to test what he had learned in sociology. So, He traveled to a coal camp, picked up a pseudonym, and began a hands on course in the real world application of sociology. What Hal saw, frankly, appalled him. The company was taking advantage of these uneducated peoples, who had no idea of the American laws that sought to protect their freedoms. From that point on, Hal was determined to risk life and limb to help the miners organize and gain their freedoms. The evils of the Capitalistic system used in the United States fueled the scenes Hal saw in North…show more content…
Hal bore witness to this product when he arrived at the North Valley coal camp: “I'll [Alec Stone] pay you forty-five a month”… where upon inquiry [about board at Reminitsky’s] he [Hal] was met by a stout Russian [Reminitsky], who told him he could be taken care of for twenty-seven dollars a month... After deducting a dollar and a half a month for his [Hal’s] saloon-keepers, fifty cents for the company clergyman and a dollar for the company doctor, fifty cents a month for wash-house privileges and fifty cents for a sick and accident benefit fund, he [Hal] had fourteen dollars a month. (Sinclair 9-10) This quote demonstrates the payment of low wages, one of the evils of Capitalism. The greedy company paid Hal $45 dollars a month, then tried to take that money back with unnecessary charges. These charges were required and left the employee with a fraction of his or her original wage. The company, in turn, made more money, and the miners were left

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