The Jungle

The Jungle Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, Jurgis washes his cell and waits for visitors. Nobody comes to see him. Jurgis soon receives a new cellmate, a dapper safecracker named Jack Duane. Despite sounding well-educated, Duane is open and friendly with Jurgis. The two men swap stories, and Jurgis's spirits are raised. Jack, charmed by the Lithuanian's innocence, tells Jurgis that he was a college-educated engineer who fell upon hard times after his telegraphing invention was stolen by a large company.
In jail, Jurgis is somewhat removed from the endless competition of his workplace, which may be what allows him to enjoy some camaraderie with Jack Duane.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Jurgis meets more of the prisoners, who are, for the most part, so wretched and bitter that Jurgis tries to ignore them. Before Jurgis leaves, Jack gives him his address and the two promise to keep in touch.
The jail's overall moral bankruptcy is not enough to prevent Jurgis from making a lasting friendship.
Themes
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
The day before New Year's, Jurgis stands trial. His English is not good enough to testify, and the bored, contemptuous judge hardly pays him any attention. Jurgis is sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Jurgis's trial is a mockery of justice, and it serves as a further confirmation of the systemic bias the immigrant must face.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Jurgis is sent to the "Bridewell" jail, where conditions are even worse than 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 after a cut became infected. Stanislovas was fired by his boss, a crony of Connor's, and has been selling papers downtown; his mother has been reduced to begging for food. Jurgis, devastated, must tell Stanislovas that he cannot help them. As Stanislovas is about to leave, Jurgis hands him his remaining fourteen cents.
Without Jurgis as a provider, the family's fortunes fall still further, thanks to petty industrial cronyism. In jail, Jurgis is rendered unable to fulfill his duties to provide for his family. This emasculation only worsens Jurgis's spirits.
Themes
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
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