- Accidental Aesop: The book was intended to highlight the poor treatment of workers in packing plants, but the descriptions of what was going into the nation's food were so disgusting as to cause the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act. As Sinclair himself put it: "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."
- Anvilicious: The book pulls no punches in its condemnation of capitalism.
- Jerkass Woobie: Jurgis. He would've been a completely sympathetic character, but Upton Sinclair shows how the abusive environment of Packingtown and Chicago twists his relationship with his wife into something abusive. He eventually looks back and admits to himself that he wasn't always the best husband.
- Nausea Fuel: The descriptions of what was going into the nation's food. Dead rats and injured workers aren't most people's idea of savory — and the narration says that some of the other stuff that went into the meat vats was so bad, it made dead rat look like a trifle in comparison.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The whole reason Upton Sinclair wrote this book. He meant to expose the horrors that workers had to go through because the businessmen and the capitalists had power over them and they were abusing it. However, people were more preoccupied by the fact that "EW! Someone's finger might have been ground up in my steaks!"
- Squick: Goes without saying.
- Values Dissonance: Jurgis asks Ona's parents for her hand in marriage when she is in her early teens.
- What an Idiot!: Jurgis knew his family needed his income to survive and knew that beating up Ona's boss would land him in jail for a good long while. But he did it anyway. If he hadn't done that, he wouldn't have set off the chain of tragedies which he so bemoans later in the book. Then again, it's hard to be objective about the situation when someone's raped your wife and forced her to prostitute herself.
YMMV / The Jungle