The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At his sentencing, Jurgis explains to the judge that he was only in the brothel to look for his sister. Since Jurgis used a pseudonym with the police, his criminal past is undiscovered, and the judge lets him off with a warning. Marija receives a fine, which is paid by the brothel's proprietress. He goes back to the brothel with Marija, where he notices that she looks sickly; she confesses to him that she is addicted to morphine and alcohol.
Following the police raid, the brothel quickly resumes business as usual. This ebb and flow of bad luck and unceasing work shows that the law does nothing meaningful to stop the illegal exploitation that takes place in the brothels.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Marija explains the brothel's extortive arrangements: although her earnings are decent, she is charged outrageous prices for room and board. Girls are essentially abducted and enslaved in brothels. They are given drugs and often become indebted to their madams; breaking free from this cycle is next to impossible. Jurgis then tells Marija his story. She offers to support him, over his protestations. She sends him off with a quarter, and Jurgis wanders the streets.
Marija's struggle is a still more horrifying version of the workingman's: her uncaring employers extort her, and, like Jurgis, there is next to nothing she can do to overcome the cycle of adversity that engulfs her. In spite of Jurgis's misbehavior, Marija still shows a familial commitment to support him.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
He comes across a political rally in the same place he was kicked out of the night before. He sits there, preoccupied by his family's woes, until an elegant woman kindly asks him to pay attention to the speech. Jurgis is shocked that she refers to him as "comrade," and marvels at the way the orator has entranced the woman.
The difference between this political rally and the one before (at which Jurgis fell asleep) is made more stark by the fact that they are held in the same place. But whereas the last rally was just more of the same lies which Jurgis could easily see through, this rally amazes him because of the way it seems to genuinely cut across socioeconomic boundaries, as indicated by the way the elegant woman seems to see Jurgis as an equal, a comrade.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Labor Rights and Socialism Theme Icon
It soon becomes clear that Jurgis has come upon a socialist rally: the speaker is a haggard man who passionately denounces the way laborers are oppressed by the forces of greed. He condemns the upper classes at length and encourages the workingmen to rise up against the wretchedness that has been imposed upon them. The speech resonates profoundly with Jurgis's struggle and rouses his long-repressed hopes and sorrows. When the speech has finished, Jurgis cries out, overcome with emotion, and has an epiphany: years of mistreatment by the capitalist system have destroyed his soul.
This rally—with its depiction of the way that society seems to have been set up by the rich to benefit themselves at the expense of the poor—has utterly altered Jurgis's worldview: he has rediscovered his humanity. Instead of looking out only for himself, as capitalism has taught him to do, he instead now sees the necessity of uniting with his fellow workingmen to make meaningful, profound changes to the system that holds them down.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Labor Rights and Socialism Theme Icon
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