The Jungle

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Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Jungle published in 2001.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Bit by bit these poor people have given up everything else; but to this they cling with all the power of their souls—they cannot give up the veselija! To do that would mean, not merely to be defeated, but to acknowledge defeat—and the difference between these two things is what keeps the world going.

Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel begins, Sinclair depicts a young immigrant couple that's poor and hungry, but happy. The couple, Ona and Jurgis, are recent transplants to the United States, and they've attempted to bring their culture--Lithuanian culture--with them to their new home. Sinclair depicts Ona and Jurgis as embodiments of the American dream; the possibility that foreigners can come to America, make a living, and still represent the place they came from.

Sinclair is a harsh realist, but he's also something of a romantic, at least for now. Ona and Jurgis will endure a great deal of hardship in the pages to come, but Sinclair maintains that as long as they keep their spirits up, they'll be fine. The power of the human will, as we'll come to see, is easily underrated--the businesses and communities of America will try to crush the immigrants' spirits.


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Chapter 2 Quotes

All the sordid suggestions of the place were gone—in the twilight it was a vision of power.

Related Symbols: Packingtown
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Ona and Jurgis survey their new neighborhood, "Packingtown," which is near a big meatpacking plant, a staple of American industry at the time. Ona and Jurgis have had plenty of hardship so far, but they maintain their optimistic spirit: they believe that America will allow them to find good jobs and thrive. As they look at the meatpacking plant, they don't think about its horrible smell or ugly appearance--all they can think about is prosperity and power. Sinclair also shows how the dim light of evening erases all the "sordid suggestions" of the place, making it seem more appealing--perhaps a metaphor for how the obscuring of the realities of the meat industry and immigrant life allowed most Americans to live in blissful ignorance of atrocities.

From the reader's perspective, it's pretty clear that the meatpacking plant won't bring its workers prosperity of any kind; it'll just chew them up and spit them out for profit. The passage uses dramatic irony--an asymmetry between what the readers know and what the characters know--to create suspense and tragedy.

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.

They use everything about the hog except the squeal.

Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we're introduced to the meatpacking plant's methods: it takes live animals and turns them into household products: the hair is used for brushes, the skin for lampshades, the meat for eating, etc. The real horror of the meatpacking plant is its capitalistic efficiency: governed by the law of maximizing profits, the owners of the plant have used their ingenuity to build machines that turn the pig from a living animal into a series of products. As we come to recognize, the plant's owners also use their machines and their business to turn human beings--their workers--into similar objects to be exploited and then thrown away.

It's worth thinking more closely about the notion of "using everything but the scream." Sinclair's point seems to be that factories conceal the true brutality of their methods: consumers have no idea that live pigs are brutally killed, or that workers are horribly exploited. By writing his book, Sinclair hopes to reveal "the scream" to his readers.

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.

Then he set someone else at a different job, and showed the lad how to place a lard can every time the remorseless machine came to him; and so was decided the place in the universe of little Stanislovas, and his destiny till the end of his days.

Related Characters: Stanislovas Lukoszaite
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

The great tragedy--though also the great strength--of the Lithuanian immigrants in the novel is that they're bound to each other by blood. When one of them is in debt, the other ones have to work harder to support him. Thus, when Ona and Jurgis fall behind on their payments, Ona's brother Stanislovas has to go to work at the factory alongside Jurgin. Stanislovas is still a kid--not even old enough to work legally--but because of his family situation his life changes overnight.

The immigrants in the novel stick together at all costs--other than family, they have nothing to live for. Stanislovas may not fully understand his obligations to his siblings and parents, but he will.

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.

All the year round they had been serving as cogs in the great packing machine, and now was the time for the renovating of it and the replacing of damaged parts.

Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Sinclair brings his metaphor full circle. Previously, Jurgis had compared himself to a cog in a great machine--he'd thought of his role in the meatpacking plant with pride. Now, Jurgis is beginning to see what it really means to be a cog in a machine.

Jurgis--just like any cog--is expendable. When he gets tired, or old, or sick, he can be fired and replaced with someone fresh and new. Because so many immigrants come to America, there's an endless supply of eager workers for the meatpacking plant. The plant knows that it can always hire new employees--and so it takes no steps whatsoever to take care of its current workers; on the contrary, it treats them horribly, and then easily replaces the "damaged parts."

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 9 Quotes

The officials who ruled it, and got all the graft, had to be elected first; and so there were two rival sets of grafters, known as political parties, and the one got the office which bought the most votes.

Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

As Jurgis becomes more politically engaged, he becomes more away of the harsh realities of voting. Jurgis has a "choice"--he can choose between multiple candidates--and yet each one of these candidates is basically the same. All politicians in the country, at least the ones that Jurgis is aware of, are frauds: they pretend to care about their constituents, but in reality they're just trying to get themselves reelected by "buying votes"--bribing people to vote a certain way, or encouraging them to change their votes by giving them food and shelter.

The realities of American politics make Jurgis's situation look especially hopeless--at first, he thought that he could turn to politics to improve his situation. But now it becomes clear that Jurgis doesn't really have anyone who'll listen to him: American politicians don't care about his problems.

Chapter 11 Quotes

It was dreadful that an accident of this sort, that no man can help, should have meant such suffering.

Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

Jurgis sprains his ankle during his work at the factory. Through no real fault of his own (as Sinclair says, anyone can sprain their ankle), Jurgis is plunged into financial ruin: he's dismissed from his job without pay (why should the factory pay someone who can't work?) and forced to survive without any other source of income.

Sinclair allows the injustice of Jurgis's situation to sink in. Because he's been working at an unsafe plant, he hurts himself. And yet when Jurgis injures himself, the factory throws him out instead of apologizing and offering him pay. The horror of the situation is that the factory knows exactly what it's doing: morality aside, it has no financial reason to take care of an injured worker when it can always just discard and replace him.

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 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.

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.)

There are a million people, men and women and children, who share the curse of the wage-slave…There are a thousand…who are the masters of these slaves, who own their toil…They own not merely the labor of society, they have bought the governments; and everywhere they use their raped and stolen power to intrench themselves in their privileges, to dig wider and deeper the channels through which the river of profits flows to them!—And you, workingmen, workingmen! You have been brought up to it, you plod on like beasts of burden, thinking only of the day and its pain…

Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 255-256
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, a socialist speaker makes a rousing speech in which he sums up everything that's happened to Jurgis so far. The socialist talks about the horrors of rampant capitalism: in an unregulated capitalist society, a tiny minority of people soon control all the means of production, leaving poor workers like Jurgis to operate the factories for tiny sums of money and to be treated like animals: "beasts of burden."

The speech resonates with Jurgis because everything Jurgis has experienced in America so far revolves around the injustices of class inequality. Jurgis is a hardworking, intelligent person, but because he's a poor immigrant, he's given a low-paying, unsafe job. The socialist orator in this chapter is offering Jurgis a view of life outside the capitalist ideology--a place in which Jurgis and his peers will be (ideally) given fair wages and an easier way of life.

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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