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Chapter 28 Notes from The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 28

After appearing in court, all the prostitutes, including Marija, head back to the house. Jurgis cannot help but notice how terrible Marija looks. She tells him she is addicted to morphine, and then tells him about her life of prostitution. There is a black-market import of foreign girls, she says, and even she is marketed by her ethnicity-she is called Lithuanian Mary. She gives Jurgis the family's address in the "ghetto district" but Jurgis is hesitant to go even though Marija insists that they'd be overjoyed to see him. Jurgis puts off seeing the family for shame and meanwhile, happens upon that same hall where another meeting is underway, albeit without the festivities of the earlier meeting. The place is filled with people and they are incredibly enthusiastic, so Jurgis joins them. His mind is preoccupied, however, with his family and he soon falls asleep. The woman to his left tells him, after the man next to him has nudged him, that if he tries to listen, he might be interested. She calls him "comrade." Jurgis sees that she is mesmerized by the speaker onstage. He is a dark-bearded man and his words move everyone in the building. Soon Jurgis is mesmerized too. The speaker speaks of the interminable toil of the worker's life, of the squalor in which he and his family are forced to live. It is not fair and the fight is on to change it. It is time to stop believing that it is the natural order of things, because it is not.

"To you, the toilers, who have made this land, and have no voice in its councils! To you, whose lot it is to sow that others may reap, to labor and obey, and ask no more than the wages of a beast of burden, the food and shelter to keep you alive from day to day. It is to you that I come with my message of salvation, it is to you that I appeal." Chapter 28, pg. 361

The words hit Jurgis like a lightening bolt and as beaten down and defeated as he is, the speech brings back his own toil and squalor in vivid color and his sense of injustice returns. He is a new man. "The sentences of this man were to Jurgis like the crashing of thunder in his soul; a flood of emotion surged up in him-all his old hopes and longings, his old griefs and rages and despairs." Chapter 28, pg. 366

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