The Jungle Chapter 15
Jurgis thinks something is terribly wrong with Ona, something that she and Elzbieta aren't telling him. Ona is constantly terrified, often has fits of sobbing and seems hysterical all the time. As winter approaches, the hours for the family increase at the factories. Ona and Elzbieta are working 15-16 hours a day. Near Thanksgiving, a terrible snowstorm descends on the city and the next morning, Elzbieta tells Jurgis that Ona did not come home that night. Jurgis goes looking for her, and spots her trudging through the snow. She tells him that the streetcars had stopped running and she'd had to stay with her friend Jadvyga Marcinkus. Jurgis wonders why Ona is sobbing and trembling. Clearly, something is wrong.
One night near Christmas, Marija and Elzbieta come home, exclaiming that Ona had not met them after work. Jurgis thinks she is just at Jadvyga's house again but when he goes there, Jadvyga says that Ona isn't there-that she'd never been there. He searches all over for her and at her workplace, a man tells him that there is a great traffic jam downtown and perhaps that is what is holding her up. Jurgis tells him that Ona never goes downtown and the man exchanges a knowing glance with a female worker, which Jurgis catches. He spots Ona in a car on Ashland Avenue and follows her home. When he follows her inside, Elzbieta tries to intercept him, lying about where Ona has been, but by this time, Jurgis's suspicions are thick. He confronts Ona and a terrible fight ensues. Ona has a convulsive fit and tells him that she has been spending her evenings in Miss Henderson's whorehouse. Connor, the boss at her factory, had tried to seduce her and demanded that she sleep with him or she'd lose her job and he'd be sure to find a way to take the jobs away from all her family members. So she became Connor's mistress for the good of the family.
Jurgis is blind with fury. He runs down Ashland Avenue, heading for the factory, looking for Connor and when he finds him, he beats him severely. "To Jurgis this man's whole presence reeked of the crime he had committed; the touch of his body was madness to him-it set every nerve of him a-tremble, it aroused all the demon in his soul." Chapter 15, pg. 181