Notes on Characters from The Jungle

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The Jungle Major Characters

Jurgis Rudkus : Main character of the novel. A Lithuanian immigrant who works in Chicago's meatpacking plants and tries to save his family from starvation and ruin. It is through Jurgis that Sinclair reveals the atrocities of the Beef Trust that forced the government to pass regulatory laws. Jurgis becomes a Socialist at the end of the novel.

Ona Rudkus: Jurgis's wife who follows him to America from Lithuania, along with her family. She works in the meatpacking plants and falls into prostitution to keep her family alive. She dies during childbirth.

Elzbieta Lukoszaite: Ona's stepmother, and the mother of seven children of her own. She struggles to keep the family from starving and loses two of her children to early death.

Marija Berczynskas: Ona's cousin, who came to America with the family. A strong, sturdy woman with great spirit. When she arrives, she can perform heavy tasks at the packing plants. She loses her job after joining the union, then falls into prostitution and morphine addiction after Jurgis abandons the family.

Minor Characters

Grandmother Majauzskiene : The family's neighbor, also Lithuanian, who explains the swindles of the yards to the family. She is a Socialist.

Dede Antanas: Jurgis's elderly father who accompanied him to America. Worked in the pickling rooms of one of the packing plants but developed tuberculosis and died.

Jokubus Sdevilas: A fellow Lithuanian immigrant who owns a deli on Halsted Street. Befriends the family and is the first to show them around the slaughterhouses.

Jadvyga Marcinkus: Fellow Lithuanian immigrant and friend of the family. She works at the canning factory and supports an invalid mother and three small siblings.

Tamoszius Kuszleika: Fiddler who, for a while, is Marija's fiancée. He is a Socialist.

Jonas Lukoszaite: Elzbieta's brother, Ona's uncle. He comes with the family to America and gets a job at a meatpacking plant. He disappears early in the novel. The family thinks he abandoned them, though he may have been killed on the job.

Stanislovas Lukoszaite: One of Elzbieta's children. He's 13 years old but secured false papers in order to work at a lard can factory in the yards. Developed a phobia about snow after seeing a young co-worker's frostbitten ears fall off. Is killed on the job by rats after having fallen asleep.

Mike Scully: The Democratic 'boss' of the yards. A corrupt politician whom Jurgis consults after becoming corrupt himself during a worker's strike.

Miss Henderson: Ona's superintendent and Connor's former mistress. Draws Ona into prostitution.

Antanas: Jurgis and Ona's baby. He drowns in the muddy water in the road in front of their house.

Vilimas and Nikalojus: Two of Elzbieta's children. They sell newspapers downtown to bring in extra money.

Kristoforas: One of Elzbieta's children, crippled. Dies at the age of three after eating a sausage.

Kotrina: Elzbieta's daughter. Take care of the younger children in the house.

Connor: A boss at the factory where Ona works. Seduces her and pushes her into prostitution. Is severely beaten by Jurgis and manages to put Jurgis on a blacklist, making it impossible for him to find a job.

Judge Pat Callahan: A crooked, xenophobic judge who sentences Jurgis to jail time after he beats Connor.

Jack Duane: A con man Jurgis meets in jail and befriends. He introduces Jurgis to the criminal underworld and, as partners, they rob and beat men in darkened alleys.

Madame Haupt: The midwife who cannot save Ona's life. She haggles mercilessly with Jurgis, while Ona lay dying. Uncaring, it seems. A product of her environment.

Juozapas: One of Elzbieta's children, also a cripple.

Freddie Jones: Son of a wealthy beef baron who, in a drunken stupor, brings Jurgis to his mansion for food and drink and from whom Jurgis steals a $100 bill.

Buck Halloran: An Irish 'political worker' who oversees the vote-buying operations, the pay-offs for political parties and for city leaders.

Bush Harper: Nightwatchman at Brown's who bought Jurgis's vote when he became a naturalized citizen. He works for Mike Scully as a union spy.

Ostrinski: A Polish immigrant who is a Socialist. He befriends Jurgis and teaches him the tenets of Socialism and how it can overcome the 'evils' of a capitalist society.

Tommy Hind: Socialist owner of Hind's hotel. Gives Jurgis a job and encourages him to tell his story of working in the packing plants to guests.

Mr. Lucas: A Socialist priest and itinerant preacher. He believes the result of Socialism will be a religious renewal. Schliemann and he disagree on this.

Nicholas Schliemann: A Swedish philosopher and Socialist whose socialist polemic at the end of the novel is seen as Sinclair's attempt to convert the public to Socialism. His speech further commits Jurgis to the cause, and gives him hope.

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