The Jungle

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Miss Henderson 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 Ona hostilely. Furthermore, Miss Henderson appears to be complicit in Phil Connor's sexual exploitation of Ona.

Miss Henderson Quotes in The Jungle

The The Jungle quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Henderson or refer to Miss Henderson. 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 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.


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Miss Henderson Character Timeline in The Jungle

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Henderson appears in The Jungle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Ona is also disliked and mistreated by her forelady, Miss Henderson . She learns that Miss Henderson and the other girls dislike her because she is... (full context)
Chapter 15
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
...of work if she did not sleep with him. He has been taking her to Miss Henderson's downtown house regularly, and is physically abusive. (full context)