Stanislovas' Death in The Jungle

Anyone here ever read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle? You know, where the main character has calamity after calamity pile up on him until the reader can only smirk and say, “Oh, come ON!!”

There’s a teenage character named Stanislovas who is killed and eaten by rats in an old factory.

Uh-huh. I call bullshit. Even as he’s portrayed as sleeping off a drunk when he’s attacked, there’s no frickin’ way a teenager could be killed by a swarm of rats. Why wouldn’t the bites wake him up, and then he could just get up and stagger off? Maybe, maybe the rat bites could get infected and kill off Stanislovas that way, but that’s not what happens. People open the factory door and find him eaten by rats.

I’m thinking Stanislovas was already dead when the rats began nibbling on him. Either from alcohol poisoning or some other mishap.

Other than in movies like Willard and Ben, I just don’t think getting killed and eaten by rats is something that folks have to worry about.

Do you disagree? Or perhaps you would like to post other dubious methods of death in fiction?

Rats are scavengers, not hunters, and they certainly wouldn’t attack a creature a hundred times their size capable of squashing on in a single foot stomp. There is quite a bit in The Jungle that can be charitably described as apocryphal and done to just inflame the reader’s sense of outrage as if the wage slavery of immigrants and the horrifying lack of sanitation aren’t sufficient.


Rats killing someone asleep? Not probably, because the person will wake up and start fighting back.

Rats killing someone unconscious? - Yeah, maybe. Because drinking yourself into a stupor isn’t being asleep, it’s being in a state akin to a coma. You aren’t waking up no matter what. Sure, enough rats could kill someone unable to move, fight back, or be roused.

Most likely, someone that far gone in drink is close to death anyway. Said person might have expired just before the rats dug in, or shortly after they started.

So… possible under specific circumstances but not terribly likely.

I’ll add another vote for “it’s not a documentary”. Unless you really think that hiring black employees meant that they would steal all of the cutlery from the staff cafeteria to turn into shivs.

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Ummmm, what?

From “The Jungle”:

Interesting. I guess I forgot that part.