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How the Other Half Lives

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How the Other Half Lives

Throughout the course of history, materials such as literature have been written about certain time periods. In time, these literary works can be assessed and interpreted to help discover facts about that period of history. One novel that can accomplish this task is How the Other Half Lives, by Jacob Riis, in which Riis describes how reform is needed. Before this novel was published, the United States was going through a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization. In the northeastern region of the United States, many factories appeared to increase the production of goods. Vast immigration caused overpopulation in major cities across the United States. These immigrants came to America to search for jobs to help provide better lives for their families. These immigrants arrived with very little money, therefore they needed cheap housing. The slums were the answer to this problem. These people were exploited by having to pay a large amount of money for such a tiny, disgusting room. The price of living in tenements soon became too much for some families, simply because the jobs did not pay enough. This lack of income caused the onset of child labor. Living conditions in tenements soon became exceptionally harmful, mainly because an overpopulated tenement spread disease very easily. Many people, mostly young children, were dying because of these diseases, as well as starvation. These horrible slums were a main reason why muckrakers started investigating. Muckrakers used journalism to explain to the population the idea that the slums needed much improvement. Articles were written by muckrakers to show the disgusting living and working conditions in the slums. Jacob Riis was one of these muckrakers who enlightened the public about the wretched state of the slums through How the Other Half Lives. How the Other Half Lives, Riis exposes the horrors inside the tenements and demands reform. Riis describes how the poor immigrants arriving in the country were being taken advantage of by the corrupt landlords. Riis depicts the lack of windows and crowded living space in the tenements, which allowed

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