Book Notes Chapter 13 Notes from The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 13

One of Elzbieta's children, Kristoforas, dies after eating a diseased sausage. He was Elzbieta's favorite-three years old, a cripple with rickets and a congenital dislocation of the hip. The family has no money for a hearse but Elzbieta insists on a proper funeral for her child, so Marija donated some money and Elzbieta goes door to door begging. Meanwhile, Jurgis is still unemployed and becoming more desperate for work. He realizes, as he paces before the gates of the packinghouses, that there are stages of unemployment. He had reached the lowest-he is willing to work in the fertilizer works. The fertilizer works is set apart from the other parts of the factory. All the waste products end up here and are made into fertilizer, gelatin, albumen, glue, etc. Jurgis, after hearing about the horrors of the fertilizer plant-how the smell nearly chokes you and how the smell bleeds into your skin so that people around you become ill-takes the job because he has to feed his family. Jurgis's job is to shovel fertilizer into carts. He suffers through dust storms of fertilizer - his eyes burn, and he vomits. He's happy to have a job. Because the summer brings relative prosperity (there is enough works, debts are being paid), and because the boys are picking up bad habits, the family decide that their work as newspaper boys should end in the fall, and they'll return to school. This means, though, that Elzbieta must begin working and Kotrina, Elzbieta's daughter, will take over the domestic duties. Elzbieta gets work at a sausage machine, filling casings with the meat. It is deadly dull work and she sees first hand what these factories call sausage - poisonous mix of random byproducts.

"It was piece-work, and she was apt to have a family to keep alive; and stern and ruthless economic laws had arranged it that she could only do this by working just as she did, with all her soul upon her work, and with never an instant for a glance at the well-dressed ladies and gentlemen who came to stare at her, as at some wild beast in a menagerie." Chapter 13, pg. 159

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