The protagonist of The Jungle, Jurgis is a vigorous, motivated, and honorable Lithuanian immigrant whose idealistic vision of America is quickly crushed by grinding poverty, dangerous work, and a corrupt system. After enduring a… (read full character analysis)
Ona is the young, beautiful, kind-hearted wife of Jurgis. Early in the book, she gives birth to their baby boy, Antanas. Ona works in a meatpacking factory to support her family, where her… (read full character analysis)
Marija is Ona's strong, stubborn cousin who comes to America to seek work with the family. At first, Marija is unafraid to fight for her rights, and even loses her job in a cannery after… (read full character analysis)
Phil Connor, Ona's despicable boss, is one of the clearest representations of the way capitalism corrupts industry, politics, and individual conscience alike. He threatens Ona in exchange for sexual favors. When he is attacked by… (read full character analysis)
Baby Antanas, named for Jurgis's late father, is the only child of Ona and Jurgis. After Ona's death, he is the light of Jurgis's life, and his sole motivation to work. However, in a freak… (read full character analysis)
Grandmother Majauskiene is a wise old woman who lives next door to the house the Rudkus family leases. She is a socialist who has seen the Packingtown labor system mistreat several waves of inexperienced immigrants… (read full character analysis)
Stanislovas is a teenaged son of Teta Elzbieta. He lies about his age to take a job in a slaughterhouse, but tries to avoid work when a dangerous snowstorm hits. Jurgis beats him as… (read full character analysis)
Jack Duane is a smooth-talking criminal that Jurgis befriends during his first jail sentence. When Jurgis returns to jail, Duane convinces him to join his life of crime. Later on, Duane is caught breaking a… (read full character analysis)
Miss Henderson is Ona's supervisor at the meatpacking factory. She also runs a brothel downtown, where many of Ona's coworkers work as prostitutes. Miss Henderson resents Ona's respectable lifestyle, and she and her subordinates treat… (read full character analysis)
Nicholas Schliemann is a vehement and intelligent advocate of socialism who speaks at length during a pro-socialist meeting held at Fisher's house. He sees socialism as a way to realize his vision of an egalitarian… (read full character analysis)
Mike Scully is a powerful, conscienceless Democratic Party boss who has a hand in many of Chicago's criminal activities, including the housing scam that defrauds the Rudkus family. During Jurgis's time as a… (read full character analysis)
Bush Harper is a duplicitous union spy who introduces Jurgis to Mike Scully. When Jurgis gets into hot water for assaulting Phil Connor for the second time, Harper pulls strings to get Jurgis's bail… (read full character analysis)
Teta Elzbieta Lukoszaite
The anchor of the family, Teta Elzbieta is Ona's stepmother and the mother of Kristoforas, Juozapas, Stanislovas, and Kotrina. She is a shrewd woman who is not afraid to stand up to Jurgis when his self-destructive habits threaten the family's well-being.
Jokubas is an old friend of Jonas's from Lithuania. He runs a deli in Chicago, and Jonas sees Jokubas as an American success story. However, Jokubas's business is not as lucrative as it seems, and his disappointing experience of America contrasts with the Rudkus family's wide-eyed optimism.
Juozapas is Teta Elzbieta's son. He is lame. When the family is desperate for food, he scavenges at the dump. There, a wealthy woman takes pity upon him and later helps Jurgis find a job in the harvester works.
Kotrina is Teta Elzbieta's teenaged daughter. Instead of attending school, she looks after the home and the children. After Jurgis goes to prison, the family's financial situation forces her to sell newspapers downtown. Jurgis uses some of her earnings to fund a drinking binge after Ona's death.
Jonas is the brother of Teta Elzbieta. After a short time working, he becomes discouraged and hopeless, and abandons the family without a word.
Tommy Hinds is an ardent socialist and the owner of a hotel where Jurgis happens to find work as a porter. When the two men realize their common political passion, Hinds encourages Jurgis to share his story to convert others to the socialist cause.
Ostrinski is a Lithuanian-speaking immigrant from Poland who has worked to further socialism in Europe and the United States. He teaches Jurgis the basic principles of socialism after Jurgis is inspired at a socialist meeting.
Aniele is the proprietress of the tenement where Jurgis's family stays.
Madame Haupt is the fat, conniving midwife whom Jurgis finds to care for Ona. Even after she is unable to save Ona, she harangues the grieving Rudkus family for money. Her inconsiderate, selfish demands showcase the way capitalism fosters greed.
Freddie Jones is the carefree and careless son of a fabulously wealthy meatpacking magnate. Freddie drunkenly stumbles across Jurgis begging for money on the street, gives him a hundred-dollar bill, and treats him to a lavish dinner at his mansion.
Tamoszius is a frail violinist and a friend of the family. He and Marija are in love, but their financial privation leaves them unable to afford to marry.