The Jungle eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Jungle.

And the speaker’s voice broke suddenly, with the stress of his feelings; he stood with his arms stretched out above him, and the power of his vision seemed to lift him from the floor.  The audience came to its feet with a yell; men waved their arms, laughing aloud in their excitement.  And Jurgis was with them, he was shouting to tear his throat; shouting because he could not help it, because the stress of his feeling was more than he could bear.  It was not merely the man’s words, the torrent of his eloquence.  It was his presence, it was his voice:  a voice with strange intonations that rang through the chambers of the soul like the clanging of a bell—­that gripped the listener like a mighty hand about his body, that shook him and startled him with sudden fright, with a sense of things not of earth, of mysteries never spoken before, of presences of awe and terror!  There was an unfolding of vistas before him, a breaking of the ground beneath him, an upheaving, a stirring, a trembling; he felt himself suddenly a mere man no longer—­there were powers within him undreamed of, there were demon forces contending, agelong wonders struggling to be born; and he sat oppressed with pain and joy, while a tingling stole down into his finger tips, and his breath came hard and fast.  The sentences of this man were to Jurgis like the crashing of thunder in his soul; a flood of emotions surged up in him—­all his old hopes and longings, his old griefs and rages and despairs.  All that he had ever felt in his whole life seemed to come back to him at once, and with one new emotion, hardly to be described.  That he should have suffered such oppressions and such horrors was bad enough; but that he should have been crushed and beaten by them, that he should have submitted, and forgotten, and lived in peace—­ah, truly that was a thing not to be put into words, a thing not to be borne by a human creature, a thing of terror and madness!  “What,” asks the prophet, “is the murder of them that kill the body, to the murder of them that kill the soul?” And Jurgis was a man whose soul had been murdered, who had ceased to hope and to struggle—­who had made terms with degradation and despair; and now, suddenly, in one awful convulsion, the black and hideous fact was made plain to him!  There was a falling in of all the pillars of his soul, the sky seemed to split above him—­he stood there, with his clenched hands upraised, his eyes bloodshot, and the veins standing out purple in his face, roaring in the voice of a wild beast, frantic, incoherent, maniacal.  And when he could shout no more he still stood there, gasping, and whispering hoarsely to himself:  “By God!  By God!  By God!”

Chapter 29

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The Jungle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.