The Jungle

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Ona Lukoszaite 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 boss, Phil Connor, takes advantage of her sexually. For fear of losing her job and threatening her family's livelihood, Ona does not speak out against Connor, but Jurgis discovers the man's transgressions and ends up in jail for attacking him. Shortly after Jurgis is released from jail, Ona dies after going into premature labor during her second pregnancy. Her horrifying death fuels Jurgis's spiral into despair.

Ona Lukoszaite Quotes in The Jungle

The The Jungle quotes below are all either spoken by Ona Lukoszaite or refer to Ona Lukoszaite. 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 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.

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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 27 Quotes

"When people are starving," the other continued, "and they have anything with a price, they ought to sell it, I say. I guess you realize it now when it's too late. Ona could have taken care of us all, in the beginning." Marija spoke without emotion, as one who had come to regard things from the business point of view.

Related Characters: Marija Berczynskas (speaker), Ona Lukoszaite
Page Number: 244
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Jurgis reunites with his cousin-in-law, Marija. Marija is working as a prostitute, and seems to no longer feel any moral qualms about doing so: her philosophy is survive by any means necessary, or die. Marija adds that Jurgis "overreacted" in beating up Phil Connors for abusing his wife--he should have swallowed his pride and allowed Ona to continue having sex with Phil, so that the family could survive, thanks to Phil's influence.

Marija is advocating for horrible things, but her words only come from a place of total despair and dehumanization--she speaks "without emotion," as someone totally broken by a system of power, corruption, and abuse. She has sold the last thing she had--her very body--and so sees any other choice as a kind of luxury.

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Ona Lukoszaite Character Timeline in The Jungle

The timeline below shows where the character Ona Lukoszaite 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
...sometime around 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... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...there's nothing the family can do 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
...they are even slightly late, they risk having their wages cut or losing their jobs. Ona has asked for the day off after her wedding but been refused. Finally, Jurgis carries... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...the Imperial Forest region of Lithuania, the son of a peasant, Antanas Rudkus. He met Ona at a horse-fair, fell in love with her, and devoted himself to winning her for... (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 children, and... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...cans in the canning factory, which she is very excited about. Jurgis is insistent that Ona and the children should not have to work and the children should go to school.... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marija, Ona, and Teta Elzbieta go to inquire about the houses for sale. The agent tricks them... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...next day to sign the papers. Jurgis can't go because he has to work, so Ona, Teta Elzbieta, and Jokubas go to sign the papers. They are terrified of being cheated... (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,... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The Horrors of the Meatpacking Industry Theme Icon
In order to cover the cost of interest, Ona and 14-year-old Stanislovas will have to go to work. Ona secures a job sewing covers... (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 hundred dollars... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...the other men, Jurgis only has one drink at lunch and goes straight home to Ona after work. (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 money for a doctor. Winter is over but... (full context)
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... (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.... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...on the killing beds and is unable to work, causing the family great financial stress. Ona begins to secretly withdraw money from the bank so that the family does not starve.... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
There is a big snowstorm and Ona and Stanislovas are unable to get to work. They fear they have lost their jobs,... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...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 early the... (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.... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Ona's hysterical outbreaks continue, and she begins to resemble a frightened animal. As the holiday rush... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...refuge in a saloon, and he comes home alone after a few drinks. That night, Ona fails to return home. The next morning, Jurgis waits anxiously for her at her work.... (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
Ona does not come home another night, and Jurgis goes to look for her at Jadvyga's... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Jurgis is overcome with rage. He goes straight to Ona's factory, where he viciously assaults Phil Connor. A number of workers pull Jurgis away, and... (full context)
Chapter 17
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
...they were in county jail. After ten days, Stanislovas visits him to tell him that Ona is sick, the family is starving and facing eviction, and Marija's hand may require amputation... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
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Jurgis arrives at the tenement to hear Ona in agony—she is in the throes of premature childbirth. Over Ona's screaming, Marija somberly explains... (full context)
Chapter 19
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...and a laborious climb up to the garrote of the tenement, the midwife tends to Ona. (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...she has done all she can do: the baby was positioned improperly, and it and Ona will soon die. The midwife callously demands food and drink along with her full $25... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Jurgis storms up to see Ona, who is at death's door. He holds her skeletal frame in his arms, and there... (full context)
Chapter 20
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Elzbieta begs enough money from the neighbors to hold a mass for Ona and purchase some bread. She returns to Aniele's and implores Jurgis to pull himself together... (full context)
Chapter 21
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
Jurgis returns home one weekend and is confronted by a chaotic scene, reminiscent of when Ona died. He then learns that Baby Antanas has drowned in the rainy street. (full context)
Chapter 22
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...energy. He feels liberated, though not completely so: he is occasionally tormented by memories of Ona and Antanas. (full context)
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...in tears. He runs out into the storm and cries in the forest, thinking of Ona and Antanas. (full context)
Chapter 27
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
...should sell anything they can, and suggests that Jurgis overreacted to Phil Connor's abuse of Ona—it would not have been an indignity if Ona supported the family as a prostitute, Marija... (full context)