The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Marija sees an advertisement that offers home furnishings on an installment plan, and the family decides to sign up. They move into their new house, with Jurgis carrying their belongings the 2-plus-mile distance to their house. They are delighted with their new home.
The family succumbs to more advertisements. They are still optimistic about the future and happy in their home.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Jurgis works on the killing beds and notices how "pacemakers" are employed to constantly increase the speed of work. Jurgis enjoys the strenuous labor and doesn't understand why other people complain or form unions to protect their rights. He is scornful of people who cannot keep up with the pace of work, and yet he feels sorry for his father who has been looking everywhere for a job without any luck.
Jurgis employs a double standard: on the one hand, he looks down on other people who are not as strong as he, but on the other hand he feels sorry for his father who has trouble finding a place in the stockyards. He is still very naïve and has yet to realize the injustices that take place in the plant.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Jurgis's father, Dede Antanas, is approached by someone who offers to get him a job if he gives him a third of his wages. Jurgis asks his friend Tamoszius Kuszleika about this, and Tamoszius explains that Packingtown is full of this kind of graft, with each person trying to exploit the person below him, from the bosses to the laborers.
Under the capitalist system, everyone is out to make a profit by lying, cheating, and exploiting those who are slightly weaker. Tamoszius sees this, but Jurgis does not want to believe it.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Dede Antanas accepts the offer and starts working in the plant's pickling rooms. Part of his job is to clean the traps, meaning he mops filthy liquid off the floor which is then used for pickling and collects scraps of meat from the traps, which are then used with the rest of the meat.
This gross description of pickling procedures reveals the grotesque and unsanitary conditions in Chicago's meatpacking industry—and this is only the beginning of those revelations.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
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Marija and Jonas also make disturbing discoveries. Marija finds out that she is replacing an Irishwoman with a crippled child, who was fired after 15 years because she became sick with tuberculosis. Jonas, who is working pushing truckloads of hams, finds out that he has replaced a man who was crushed by one of these trucks.
The family begins to become aware of the way people are used and abused in the meatpacking industry. Like animals or cogs in a machine, workers are dispensed with once they are no longer productive.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Jurgis witnesses grotesque practices in the slaughterhouse. When cows come along that are about to calve and are unfit for food, their entrails are removed and their "slunk" (unborn) calves are processed with the rest of the meat. Sick, wounded, or deceased cows are slaughtered at the end of the day and their meat added to the chilling rooms. These discoveries begin to shake Jurgis's optimism.
These descriptions contribute to Sinclair's exposé of the terrifying extent to which human health and safety is disregarded by the meatpacking industry. Jurgis begins to lose some of his optimism and see the dark, hellish side of the killing beds.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon