The Jungle

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Jurgis Rudkus Character Analysis

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 series of miserable jobs and suffering countless tragedies, Jurgis turns to Chicago's criminal underworld to make money. After a brief period of immoral profiteering, Jurgis is cast out onto the streets again, and just as his future looks bleakest, he discovers the encouraging ideas of socialism. Jurgis finds fulfillment as an advocate for the political movement, and at the end of the book he has contributed meaningfully to what the novel depicts as socialism's noble cause.

Jurgis Rudkus Quotes in The Jungle

The The Jungle quotes below are all either spoken by Jurgis Rudkus or refer to Jurgis Rudkus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Jungle published in 2001.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Had he not just gotten a job, and become a sharer in all this activity, a cog in this marvelous machine?

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Jurgis has gotten a job at Durham's meatpacking plant. He's overjoyed with his success: he thinks he's on the road to finding prosperity in America. Jurgis has no idea that the meatpacking plant is a nightmarish place to work, with dangerous conditions and horrible worker policies. In part, Jurgis doesn't realize the truth because his new employers have hidden it from him; in part, though, he's blind to reality, because he's so optimistic.

Jurgis's dark future is clear in the passage, which describes him as a cog in a machine. It's pretty apparent that being a cog in a machine isn't anything to be happy about: a cog is a tiny, meaningless part, which can be replaced and destroyed at any time. Sure enough, Jurgis will be exploited for his body until the day he can't work any longer--and then he'll be thrown away like a piece of trash.

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Chapter 5 Quotes

When he came home that night he was in a very somber mood, having begun to see at last how those might be right who laughed at him for his faith in America.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

It doesn't take long for Jurgis to see through the facade of employment at the slaughterhouse: at first, he seems to enjoy his work, but soon enough he realizes the truth. The meatpacking plant is unhygienic, dangerous, and inhumane: Jurgis is holding his own for now, but he seems to sense that at some point, he could seriously injure himself.

It's worth asking why, exactly, Jurgis didn't realize the truth about the meatpacking plant earlier. In part, Jurgis's employers lied to him about the realities of his job; at the same time, Jurgis himself is to blame. He's been so optimistic about life in America that he's ignored all those Lithuanians who warned him about the dangers of his new life. Now, Jurgis is realizing that he should have listened.

Chapter 6 Quotes

As in a flash of lightning they saw themselves—victims of a relentless fate, cornered, trapped, in the grip of destruction.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus, Ona Lukoszaite, Marija Berczynskas, Teta Elzbieta Lukoszaite
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Jurgis and Ona's dreams come crashing down on them. They've come to American with the naive confidence that their determination and confidence will lead them to success. Here, they realize that the opposite is true: their confidence has blinded them to the realities of their new life, and no amount of willpower can change their "fate." People have cheated them and driven them into horrible debt, and neither one of them is likely to get a good job now.

The passage is especially horrifying because Ona and Jurgis came to America precisely to avoid events like the ones they've just faced. They came to America to get a "clean slate." Now that they're in America, deep in debt, they know of nowhere they can go--they're stuck here for life.

Chapter 7 Quotes

The great corporation which employed you lied to you, and lied to the whole country; from top to bottom it was nothing but one gigantic lie.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

As the chapter begins, Jurgis and his family have taken a dark view of the country they live in. America is said to be the land of opportunity--but when Jurgis finds it, it's a terrifying, chaotic land, in which a small minority thrive while the vast majority of society--immigrants, minorities, etc.--have to work hard. (Some things never change...)

Jurgis and his family aren't quite at the point where they're prepared to take political action against their own country, but they're starting to see the full magnitude of their misfortune. It's not just that one corporation swindled Jurgis: it's the fact that Jurgis lives in an entire country where swindling is celebrated and immigrants are unfairly demonized. Jurgis's awareness of the scope of his problem is the first step toward a solution.

Chapter 8 Quotes

He forgot how he himself had been blind, a short time ago—after the fashion of all crusaders since the original ones, who set out to spread the gospel of Brotherhood by force of arms.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Jurgis becomes a convert to the workers' causes: he joins a union in the hopes that political action will improve his lot in life. Jurgis believes that a union will improve his bargaining power and give him--along with his fellow workers--better hours and wages. Furthermore, he recognizes that not too long ago, he had no idea what a union was. (In Europe at the time, unions were even more taboo than they were in the U.S.--union workers were regularly attacked by the army and the police.)

The passage depicts Jurgis as a crusader of the modern era, organizing his brothers--his fellow workers--against the evils of unrestricted capitalism and big business. Sinclair adds a thoroughly religious flavor to the passage, suggesting the vital importance of Jurgis's work as a union organizer--but also his tendency towards optimism and over-idealizing things.

Chapter 14 Quotes

With one member trimming beef in a cannery, and another working in a sausage factory, the family had a first-hand knowledge of the great majority of Packingtown swindles. For it was the custom, as they found, whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage. With what had been told them by Jonas, who had worked in the pickle rooms, they could now study the whole of the spoiled-meat industry on the inside, and read a new and grim meaning into that old Packingtown jest—that they use everything of the pig except the squeal.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus, Ona Lukoszaite, Marija Berczynskas, Teta Elzbieta Lukoszaite, Jonas
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

By this point in the novel, Jurgis's family is working in a variety of different industries, all concerned with processing or selling meat in some way. Because they work in different meatpacking capacities, the family is able to see how disgusting most meat sold to the public really is: how unsanitary the factories are, and how much disease is spread by the dirtiness of the plants.

The passage reinforces the family's disillusionment with America and American industry. At first, Jurgis was amused when the factory owners told him that their facilities used every part of the pig except the squeal. As we now realize, the factory's boast is true--because businessmen are so devoted to efficiency, they sacrifice all morality and hygiene. What initially seemed like a good policy for a factory turns out to be a subtle admission of its disgusting, slave-like conditions.

Chapter 15 Quotes

It was all—it was their plot—Miss Henderson's plot. She hated me. And [Phil Connor]—he wanted me. He used to speak to me—out on the platform. Then he began to—to make love to me. He offered me money. He begged me—he said he loved me. Then he threatened me. He knew all about us, he knew we would starve. He knew your boss—he knew Marija's. He would hound us to death, he said—then he said if I would—if I —we would all of us be sure of work—always. Then one day he caught hold of me—he would not let go—he—he—

Related Characters: Ona Lukoszaite (speaker), Jurgis Rudkus, Ona Lukoszaite, Marija Berczynskas, Phil Connor, Miss Henderson
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Jurgis learns some unpleasant truths about his family. His wife, Ona, has been sleeping with her boss, Phil Connor, a powerful businessman. Connor knows that Ona is married, but he forces her to spend time with him by claiming that he can ensure that Ona's entire family will remain employed, and threatening to have them all fired if she rejects him. Connor is extremely abusive to Ona, but she feels that she has no choice: she'll take care of her family by any means necessary, even it means betraying her husband and sacrificing her own bodily autonomy and dignity.

The passage illustrates the full extent of the immigrants' misery. The factory owns the workers' labor, 16 hours a day. For women like Ona, businessmen like Connor control their sexuality, too. Terrified of poverty, people like Ona are forced to bargain with their bodies--they know of no other way to survive.

Chapter 16 Quotes

They put him in a place where the snow could not beat in, where the cold could not eat through his bones; they brought him food and drink—why, in the name of heaven, if they must punish him, did they not put his family in jail and leave him outside—why could they find no better way to punish him than to leave three weak women and six helpless children to starve and freeze? That was their law, that was their justice!

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus, Ona Lukoszaite, Marija Berczynskas, Teta Elzbieta Lukoszaite, Antanas Rudkus
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Jurgis is thrown in jail for beating up Phil Connor, the businessman who's been abusing his wife in return for keeping the family employed. Jurgis is furious when he realizes that, all things considered, jail isn't such a bad place to be: he's warm and dry, and he gets food and water. Jurgis wonders why his wife and children haven't been sent to jail in his place--surely such an arrangement would be more "just" than their current situation.

The passage underscores the social injustices of Jurgis's world. On the surface of things, it's the "right" thing to send Jurgis to jail for violence. And yet courts can only go so far in enforcing justice: the lawmen who send Jurgis to jail know nothing of his starving wife, Connor's corruption, etc. Society's idea of justice is, it must be said, unjust.

Chapter 19 Quotes

The word rang through him like the sound of a bell, echoing in the far depths of him, making forgotten chords to vibrate, old shadowy fears to stir—fears of the dark, fears of the void, fears of annihilation. She was dead! She was dead! …An icy horror of loneliness seized him; he saw himself standing apart and watching all the world fade away from him—a world of shadows, of fickle dreams.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus, Ona Lukoszaite
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

In this heartbreaking scene, Ona dies in childbirth. Jurgis, Ona's beloved husband, is distraught by her death. Because of the rampant poverty among immigrants America, and the incompetence of American healthcare, Ona doesn't get the care she needs, and she dies a slow, bloody death.

In the broader scheme of things, Ona's death signals the end of a certain part of the family's time in America. Up to now, Jurgis and Ona have been a team, even when they've been fighting. Jurgis and Ona traveled to America to seek fortune together. Without a wife, Jurgis has no path in life anymore--as a result, he falls further into alcoholism and depression.

Chapter 20 Quotes

Out in the saloons the men could tell him all about the meaning of it; they gazed at him with pitying eyes—poor devil, he was blacklisted!...He was condemned and sentenced, without trial and without appeal; he could never work for the packers again—he could not even clean cattle pens or drive a truck in any place where they controlled.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

Jurgis tries to pull himself together--after Ona's death, he returns to the meatpacking plant where he used to work. But instead of finding work, Jurgis learns that he's been blacklisted from the plant: because he beat up Phil Connors (for abusing his wife), Connors has pulled some strings to ensure that Jurgis will never get a job in the industry again.

The passage illustrates American injustice at its most appalling. Phil Connors abused Ona for a long time, causing the family tremendous misery. Connors gets off scot-free, while Jurgis gets sent to prison and Ona dies--all because Phil is rich and American. And now Jurgis is too desperate for work to stop and realize just how outrageous his situation really is.

Chapter 21 Quotes

The little fellow was now really the one delight that Jurgis had in the world—his one hope, his one victory…He was a terrible child to manage, was Antanas, but his father did not mind that —he would watch him and smile to himself with satisfaction. The more of a fighter he was the better—he would need to fight before he got through.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus, Antanas Rudkus
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

Jurgis doesn't have his beloved wife, Ona, anymore, but he continues to turn to his family for love and support. Jurgis's reason for living is now his little son, Antanas. Antanas is a tough child--he's bad all the time, and needs a lot of attention. But Jurgis doesn't mind in the least--he loves Antanas unconditionally, and clings to him as his last "delight" in life. Furthermore, Jurgis seems to respect Antanas for being so wild: he recognizes that Antanas's spirit might help him succeed later on.

The passage is inspiring insofar as it shows Jurgis getting over his depression and finding a new reason to live. Immigrants like Jurgis endure a great deal of hardship, especially in the kinds of situations Sinclair describes, but Jurgis finds the strength to carry on. (As we soon learn, however, Jurgis's newfound confidence in his family is short-lived.)

Chapter 22 Quotes

On the contrary, try as he would, Jurgis could not help being made miserable by his conscience. It was the ghost that would not down. It would come upon him in the most unexpected places— sometimes it fairly drove him to drink… Ah, what agony was that, what despair, when the tomb of memory was rent open and the ghosts of his old life came forth to scourge him!

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Jurgis has just learned of a horrible tragedy: his beloved child, Antanas, has drowned in the rain. At this point, Jurgis decides to avoid the obvious pitfalls of going to the saloon and drowning his sorrows. Unlike so many people, Jurgis doesn't turn to drugs or alcohol in times of sadness (at least this particular time), as he recognizes that drinking will only make his life more miserable.

Here Jurgis adopts a "coping strategy" that's both more powerful and more callous. Instead of remaining with his relatives and drinking heavily, he turns his back on his community altogether, and hops a train out of town. In his despair he tries to forget about the past completely: Ona, Antanas, etc. In short, Jurgis tries to wipe the slate clean, but with mixed success.

Chapter 25 Quotes

It seemed monstrous to him that policemen and judges should esteem his word as nothing in comparison with the bartender's—poor Jurgis could not know that the owner of the saloon paid five dollars each week to the policeman alone for Sunday privileges and general favors—nor that the pugilist bartender was one of the most trusted henchmen of the Democratic leader of the district, and had helped only a few months before to hustle out a record-breaking vote as a testimonial to the magistrate, who had been made the target of odious kid-gloved reformers.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

Jurgis has received a hundred-dollar bill, and then been cheated out of it by a treacherous bartender. Jurgis is outraged that the bartender could steal from him without punishment--and yet when Jurgis appears in court, the bartender wins the case by lying. Jurgis doesn't realize it, but the bartender gets off because he's well-connected: he's cooperated with corrupt politicians and policemen in the past, and now the politicians have rewarded him.

The passage illustrates the extent of corruption in American industry. The justice system doesn't care that Jurgis is "right" and the bartender is "wrong." The fact is that the bartender is better-connected than Jurgis, and therefore he can steal with impunity. It's as if everyone in the country is somehow connected to power through corruption and bribery--the bartender, for instance, is connected to the top politicians in the city. Only Jurgis is out of the loop, and therefore, he's sent to jail.

Chapter 28 Quotes

And then suddenly came a voice in his ear, a woman's voice, gentle and sweet, "If you would try to listen, comrade, perhaps you would be interested."
Jurgis was more startled by that than he would have been by the touch of a policeman. He still kept his eyes fixed ahead, and did not stir; but his heart gave a great leap. Comrade! Who was it that called him "comrade"?
He waited long, long; and at last, when he was sure that he was no longer watched, he stole a glance out of the corner of his eyes at the woman who sat beside him. She was young and beautiful; she wore fine clothes, and was what is called a "lady." And she called him "comrade"!

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 250-251
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Jurgis stumbles upon a socialist rally. Jurgis doesn't know anything about socialism, but the mood of the rally immediately impresses him: an elegant lady treats him as an equal, both touching his body and addressing him as a comrade.

The passage is remarkable because it shows a blurring of class boundaries--unlike almost everyone else in Jurgis's life, the woman doesn't look down on Jurgis because he's poor and poorly dressed. Socialism, Sinclair implies, is a utopian ideology because it respects all human beings. (In real life, Sinclair was a committed socialist who ran for political office on several occasions.)

Chapter 29 Quotes

Even if he were to suffer as he had before, even if he were to beg and starve, nothing would be the same to him; he would understand it, and bear it. He would no longer be the sport of circumstances, he would be a man, with a will and a purpose; he would have something to fight for, something to die for, if need be!

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Sinclair shows us the transformation that Jurgis undergoes after learning about socialism. Jurgis has experienced a lot of hardship, but it's not until the previous chapter that he really sees the extent of his problem: he begins to see that America itself is a country based on an unjust system of economics. Jurgis is hard-working, but he's not compensated fairly for his hard work.

The passage is a little stagey (Sinclair's goal in The Jungle isn't just to tell a psychologically realistic story so much as it is to inspire people to join the socialist cause) as it shows Jurgis joining the ranks of the socialists. Jurgis has a cause that he's suddenly willing to fight for, and even to die for. He's newly aware that he's not alone in the world--there are millions of workers just like him. (The passage arguably shows some of the condescension implicit in Sinclair's socialist views--it's as Jurgis didn't understand how bad he had it until the friendly socialists explained it to him.)

Chapter 30 Quotes

It was all so painfully obvious to Jurgis! It was so incomprehensible how a man could fail to see it! Here were all the opportunities of the country, the land, and the buildings upon the land, the railroads, the mines, the factories, and the stores, all in the hands of a few private individuals, called capitalists, for whom the people were obliged to work for wages…And was it not plain that if the people cut off the share of those who merely "owned," the share of those who worked would be much greater?…and yet there were people who could not see it, who would argue about everything else in the world.

Related Characters: Jurgis Rudkus
Page Number: 271
Explanation and Analysis:

Jurgis gets caught up in socialist ideology very quickly. It's as if he was blind, and now can see. Previously, Jurgis focused on the details of his own life: his work, his plant, his employer, etc. Now, Jurgis is thinking globally: there's a systematic problem in the world, such that a tiny fraction of businessmen and capitalists control plants but do no actual work. By contrast, millions of workers spend long hours toiling at the factories, and make very little money. The best way to remedy the problem, Jurgis can see, is to cut out the vast majority of the money that capitalists at the top earn, and redistribute it among the proletariat who work hard.

Jurgis's political epiphany is depicted as restorative--it's as if Jurgis has found a new reason for living. In real life, Sinclair was a socialist himself, so it makes a certain amount of sense that his novel builds up to a political awakening that's depicted in explicitly socialist terms. Like many other notable political novels (Atlas Shrugged, 1984), The Jungle, one could argue, is a political tract disguised as a work of journalism/fiction--ultimately, the characters aren't quite as important as the ideas they represent.

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Jurgis Rudkus Character Timeline in The Jungle

The timeline below shows where the character Jurgis Rudkus appears in The Jungle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...1900 with a veselija, a traditional Lithuanian wedding festival for two Lithuanian immigrants, Ona and Jurgis. The wedding celebration is taking place in the backroom of a saloon in the Chicago... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...about it because he is connected to politicians. When Ona worries about the financial stress, Jurgis responds by saying that he will "work harder". (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
...jobs. Ona has asked for the day off after her wedding but been refused. Finally, Jurgis carries his new bride home. (full context)
Chapter 2
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
The narrator describes Jurgis's background and how he came to America. Jurgis grew up in the Imperial Forest region... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Jurgis and Ona take a walk around their new neighborhood. The unpaved streets are teeming with... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...Antanas and Jonas get jobs through his friend, a special policeman at Durham's meatpacking plant. Jurgis goes to Brown's slaughterhouse and is able to get a job almost instantly. He rushes... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
...animal parts are processed into everything from soap and lard to hairpins and violin strings. Jurgis is amazed by the astonishing scale of the industry, and is thrilled to be a... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Jurgis start his new job, sweeping up entrails on the "killing beds" where cattle are slaughtered.... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Jurgis brings home a shiny flyer advertising new homes for sale. The family decides they will... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...or continue renting. Jokubas warns them that they might be swindled, but in the end Jurgis decides for the family that they should buy a house. (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...house is still available and to come in the next day to sign the papers. Jurgis can't go because he has to work, so Ona, Teta Elzbieta, and Jokubas go to... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Jurgis works on the killing beds and notices how "pacemakers" are employed to constantly increase the... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Jurgis's father, Dede Antanas, is approached by someone who offers to get him a job if... (full context)
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... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Ona and Jurgis long to marry but Teta Elzbieta insists on having a traditional wedding feast, so they... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
...will perform till "the end of his days." Despite these setbacks, the family perseveres and Jurgis and Ona are still in love. (full context)
Chapter 7
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
The family works all summer and saves enough money so that Jurgis and Ona can be married in the fall. The wedding feast leaves them over a... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...where he wastes away and dies. The family can only afford a minimal funeral and Jurgis has to bargain over the expenses. (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
...a mortal fear of the cold, and he must travel to and from work with Jurgis everyday. (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...lunch, you must also drink, and the workers develop drinking habits. Unlike the other men, Jurgis only has one drink at lunch and goes straight home to Ona after work. (full context)
Chapter 8
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Labor Rights and Socialism Theme Icon
...of a full hour. Now aware of the exploitation by the bosses of the workers, Jurgis becomes interested in defending his rights, and he and his family join the union. (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Labor Rights and Socialism Theme Icon
...to a union meeting and causes an uproar by delivering an impassioned speech in Lithuanian. Jurgis also attends union meetings and becomes a convert to the worker's cause, helping to spread... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Jurgis starts learning English and is taken by a man to become a U.S. Citizen and... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
Jurgis also learns about how the packers bypass inspection requirements, which only apply to meat sold... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
The family continues to encounter adversity and Jurgis discovers more hidden costs in the lease. Ona is pregnant and Jurgis wants to save... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Ona gives birth to a baby boy, Antanas. The baby renews Jurgis's devotion to his family. Ona has to go back to work promptly and only loses... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
The bosses increase speed of work at the factory while paying less. Jurgis learns that a firm, the Beef Trust, controls the industry. (full context)
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The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
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Winter returns, and the family's struggle for survival intensifies. Jurgis sprains his ankle on the killing beds and is unable to work, causing the family... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...Stanislovas are unable to get to work. They fear they have lost their jobs, and Jurgis starts beating Stanisolvas in order to get him to go to work in the cold. (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
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Jurgis becomes well enough to go back to work, but discovers that he has been replaced... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Jurgis considers his last resort, which is working in the fertilizer plant, described as a kind... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...all day operating a sausage machine, a job which is as hard for her as Jurgis's job in the fertilizer plant. (full context)
Chapter 14
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...by the revolting work she must perform, often lacking even the energy to speak. She, Jurgis, and Ona regularly trudge home in silence, fall straight asleep, and return to their work... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Jurgis turns to alcohol to numb the physical and mental pain his job causes him. He... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Ona becomes pregnant again, and is often hysterical; seeing her anguish makes Jurgis still more deranged. He laments the work that is slowly killing his wife and his... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
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A large snowstorm hits. Jurgis takes refuge in a saloon, and he comes home alone after a few drinks. That... (full context)
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Ona does not come home another night, and Jurgis goes to look for her at Jadvyga's house. The Marcinkus family has no idea where... (full context)
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Jurgis is overcome with rage. He goes straight to Ona's factory, where he viciously assaults Phil... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Jurgis is taken to jail. In his cell, he begins to regret his furious attack on... (full context)
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The judge appointed to sentence Jurgis is Pat "Growler" Callahan, a crony of the oppressive industrialists. Jurgis is jailed on a... (full context)
Chapter 17
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The next morning, Jurgis washes his cell and waits for visitors. Nobody comes to see him. Jurgis soon receives... (full context)
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Jurgis meets more of the prisoners, who are, for the most part, so wretched and bitter... (full context)
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The day before New Year's, Jurgis stands trial. His English is not good enough to testify, and the bored, contemptuous judge... (full context)
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Jurgis is sent to the "Bridewell" jail, where conditions are even worse than they were in... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Jurgis's sentence lasts longer than he anticipates, because he must repay the costs of his imprisonment... (full context)
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After hours of trudging through the city, Jurgis arrives home, only to discover that another family has refurbished and moved into his house.... (full context)
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Jurgis thinks of all the money that the family had sunk into their house and panics.... (full context)
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Jurgis arrives at the tenement to hear Ona in agony—she is in the throes of premature... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Jurgis sprints to the nearest midwife, a Dutchwoman named Madame Haupt. He walks in on her... (full context)
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Having done all he can to help, Jurgis is pushed out of the house. He goes to a saloon, where the owner takes... (full context)
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After some time, the owner asks Jurgis to leave, fearing the man's stench will drive customers away. However, the owner recognizes that... (full context)
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At the tenement, Jurgis finds the women huddled silently downstairs, as before. The midwife descends from the attic, covered... (full context)
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Jurgis storms up to see Ona, who is at death's door. He holds her skeletal frame... (full context)
Chapter 20
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After spending all his money on a two-day drinking binge, Jurgis returns to Aniele's tenement. Aniele reprimands him for squandering money on alcohol while his family... (full context)
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...hold a mass for Ona and purchase some bread. She returns to Aniele's and implores Jurgis to pull himself together and support his own children. (full context)
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Jurgis returns to the fertilizer mill, hoping to resume his job, but he is told that... (full context)
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The next morning, Jurgis returns to the man who offered him a job, only to be denied. He has... (full context)
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Downtown, work is inconsistent, and Jurgis hunts for jobs alongside many other destitute, homeless workers. Luckily, Jurgis chances upon an acquaintance... (full context)
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Conditions at Jurgis's new job in the harvester works are relatively good. The workshops are big and clean,... (full context)
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Jurgis earns $1.75 a day. He uses some of this money to pay rent to Aniele... (full context)
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Another Lithuanian in Jurgis's shop is admired for working several jobs to support his family and learning English on... (full context)
Chapter 21
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For ten days, the children support the family while Jurgis looks for work. Teta Elzbieta's one-legged son Juozapas resorts to scavenging for food at the... (full context)
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While Jurgis is out looking for work, a wealthy, well-dressed woman begins asking questions about his life.... (full context)
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The steelworks are hellish, hectic, and so far from Jurgis's boardinghouse that he can only make it home on the weekends. Jurgis quickly becomes indifferent... (full context)
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Baby Antanas has learned to talk, and Jurgis loves him unconditionally. Jurgis, too, has taken to reading the Sunday newspaper to work on... (full context)
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Jurgis returns home one weekend and is confronted by a chaotic scene, reminiscent of when Ona... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Jurgis climbs up to the tenement's garret to see his son's body. He is furious, and... (full context)
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The sights and sounds of nature shock Jurgis after three years in the city. He eats at a farmhouse and goes for a... (full context)
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At another farm, Jurgis eats dinner with a farming family and spends the night in their barn. The farmer... (full context)
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Jurgis's life as a "tramp" has begun. Instead of asking for the help of farmers, who... (full context)
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As he travels, Jurgis meets other vagrants. Many of these men have also abandoned the struggle of the cities... (full context)
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After his wasteful, debauched evening, Jurgis is penniless and ashamed of his behavior. Some time later, during a rainstorm, he takes... (full context)
Chapter 23
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When fall comes, Jurgis returns to Chicago by stowing away on trains. He finds work digging tunnels, which are... (full context)
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Jurgis has more disposable income than he is accustomed to. Since the tunnel project is new,... (full context)
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After two weeks, Jurgis leaves the hospital, but his arm is still compromised. He has little money and, because... (full context)
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...1904, and many men are out of work. This puts housing in high demand, and Jurgis ends up spending his last money on lodging to avoid a cold spell. He is... (full context)
Chapter 24
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As a beggar, Jurgis sees that the powerless are utterly subjugated by the powerful. He is persecuted by policemen... (full context)
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Jurgis is astonished by the young man's expansive house. His host turns out to be Freddie... (full context)
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Jurgis eats ravenously and talks with Freddie. After some time, Freddie falls asleep, and Hamilton demands... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Back out in the cold, Jurgis realizes that changing his hundred-dollar bill will prove difficult. He knows that the bill will... (full context)
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Jurgis stands trial. The bartender gives his version of events, which depicts Jurgis as a delirious,... (full context)
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At Bridewell prison for the second time, Jurgis reunites with Jack Duane by chance. After talking with the other prisoners, Jurgis decides to... (full context)
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Jurgis's partnership with Jack Duane gives him a glimpse into the big-time Chicago underworld. Chicago is... (full context)
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Over time, Jurgis becomes more and more unscrupulous, and learns the ins and outs of Chicago's criminal underbelly—in... (full context)
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Scully arranges a hog-trimming job for Jurgis. Now, Jurgis earns a salary and also collects illegal kickbacks, and he adopts a more... (full context)
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When the election rolls around, Jurgis spearheads voter fraud efforts. The Republican is elected in a landslide, and Jurgis earns hundreds... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Jurgis's new incomes, both legal and illicit, allow him to adopt a more comfortable—and more decadent—lifestyle.... (full context)
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Working as a strikebreaker, Jurgis is well paid, but one day he ventures outside of the stockyard and is assaulted... (full context)
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...that there will be "no discrimination against union men" in the rehiring process, which disturbs Jurgis, because he may lose his job. However, the packers conspire not to hire union leaders,... (full context)
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After looting a bar with some policemen, Jurgis comes upon Phil Connor. He again attacks Connor and is sent back to jail. When... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Still in Chicago, Jurgis is once again destitute, and finding work amidst the economic crisis proves nearly impossible, and... (full context)
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One day, Jurgis attends a political rally to find shelter. Seeing the politicians sparks Jurgis's resentment, as he... (full context)
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Jurgis must again beg for shelter. He approaches a well-dressed woman, and she turns out to... (full context)
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As soon as Jurgis reaches Marija's building, it is raided by police. After seeing scantily-clad women and embarrassed men... (full context)
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Jurgis is rounded up with the rest of the brothel's patrons and taken to jail, where... (full context)
Chapter 28
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At his sentencing, Jurgis explains to the judge that he was only in the brothel to look for his... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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It soon becomes clear that Jurgis has come upon a socialist rally: the speaker is a haggard man who passionately denounces... (full context)
Chapter 29
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The crowd is ecstatic, and applauds for several minutes. Jurgis is deeply stirred by the socialist message, and feels as if "a new man had... (full context)
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Ostrinski, a Lithuanian-speaking Pole, exchanges life stories with Jurgis, and offers Jurgis a spot to sleep on his kitchen floor. At Ostrinski's home, the... (full context)
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Jurgis learns that Ostrinski fought for Socialism in Europe before coming to America. Though the movement... (full context)
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Jurgis comes to understand that the Chicago Beef Trust is the vilest embodiment of capitalist greed.... (full context)
Chapter 30
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After waking and eating breakfast at Ostrinski's, Jurgis finds Teta Elzbieta and tells her about his political awakening. Elzbieta is too pragmatic to... (full context)
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Jurgis gets work as a porter at a small hotel, which pays thirty dollars a month... (full context)
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Hinds asks Jurgis to tell his revolting stories of the packing industry to inform others about the horrors... (full context)
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Jurgis is intensely committed to serving Tommy Hinds and spreading the socialist message. He is so... (full context)
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Jurgis even returns to Packingtown to distribute the papers, undoing the political work he had done... (full context)
Chapter 31
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As soon as Jurgis gets his job with Hinds, he goes back to the brothel to convince Marija to... (full context)
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Jurgis's home life is unpleasant: Elzbieta is often ill and the young boys misbehave. However, he... (full context)
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...greater than in previous years. Chicago, in particular, shows itself to be a socialist stronghold. Jurgis and his comrades at Hinds's hotel are overjoyed. A fiery speaker addresses Jurgis and a... (full context)