The Jungle


Upton Sinclair

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The Jungle: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Jurgis is taken to jail. In his cell, he begins to regret his furious attack on Connor. He prays for deliverance but understands that his situation is hopeless. He imagines how his family will starve if he is locked away and unable to work.
In jail, Jurgis realizes that the entire system—from the factories to the police force—seems to be stacked against him. His rebellious outburst will only hurt him and his family.
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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 $300 bond, which he cannot afford. In the county jail as he awaits sentencing, Jurgis hears chimes and realizes that it is Christmas Eve. Jurgis fondly remembers Lithuanian Christmastime, and feels like the bells mock him in his current abjection. He is filled with rage at the unjust system that has killed his father, violated his wife, starved his family, and imprisoned him for trying to resist. "Every hour," Sinclair writes, "[Jurgis's] soul grew blacker, every hour he dreamed new dreams of vengeance, of defiance, of raging, frenzied hate."
Yet again, Jurgis is treated unfairly by the corrupt, colluding forces of power. His current helplessness contrasts sharply with the relative freedom he enjoyed in his home country. The beginnings of deep embitterment are brewing within him.
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