Chapter 10 Notes from The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 10

As Jurgis's wages drop, the family begins living hand to mouth again. Marija's savings are almost gone and she has given up the idea of marrying Tamoszius. Unforeseen costs-house repair, insurance-make things worse. The approach of summer brings stifling heat to the killing beds and a plague of flies. The managers and supers watch the workers suffer and feel themselves a class apart. They might be doing as poorly as the worker in wages, but they are of a different class and suffer the requisite snobbery.

"Here is a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers; under such circumstances, immorality is exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it is under the system of chattel slavery." Chapter 10, pg. 126

The canning factory opens again and Marija is overjoyed to have her job back. However, she promptly loses it when she complains to the super that her forelady is short-shifting her on her lard can count. Marija is sure she was fired because of her activity in the union, as the packers have spies in union meetings. Marija searches for another job and loses interest in the union as her search proved fruitless. Eventually she gets a job as a beef trimmer, generally a man's job, trimming the meat of diseased cattle. Meanwhile, Ona is discovering the seedy underside of her workplace. She'd long believed her forelady, Miss Henderson, disliked her. She thought it was because she didn't occasionally give Miss Henderson a bribe, like the other girls. In fact, Miss Henderson is a former mistress of a boss in the same building and has secured her job with a bribe - to keep quiet about the affair. She lives downtown in a whorehouse and during the slack season, a number of Ona's co-workers work for her as prostitutes. Ona becomes pregnant and gives birth to a boy, whom she and Jurgis name Antanas after Dede Antanas. Jurgis rarely sees the child, because of his work schedule. In fact, Ona is unable to nurse her baby because she has to continue working at the factory, sewing hams. Ona becomes more ill.

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