Chapter 29 Notes from The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 29

When the speech is over, the audience starts singing the Marseillaise. Then the speaker stands to answer questions and Jurgis doesn't understand a thing. When the meeting ends, Jurgis is shocked back into reality when he realizes he is still just a bum. But he feels determined to know more about the speaker and his cause.

Topic Tracking: Socialism 4

Jurgis finds the man backstage and when he asks his questions, the man asks him if he'd like to know more about Socialism. Jurgis has no idea what Socialism is. The speaker introduces Jurgis to a man named Ostrinski, whom everyone calls Comrade Ostrinski. He is a little Polish man who speaks Lithuanian and who works as a pants-finisher in the ghetto district. He tells Jurgis about Socialism and Jurgis tells him the story of his time in America. Since Jurgis has no place to go, Ostrinski offers Jurgis his kitchen floor. The explanation of Socialism is complicated and Jurgis struggles to understand. Because workers are dependent on a job, they bid against each other and wages drop because no one can get more pay than the lowest man will agree to. This leads to the development of two classes: the capitalist class (merchants and bosses) and the proletariat (poor workers). "To Jurgis the packers had been the equivalent to fate; Ostrinski showed him that they were the Beef Trust. They were a gigantic combination of capital, which had crushed all opposition, and overthrown the laws of the land, and was preying upon the people." Chapter 29, pg. 376

This is unacceptable to the Socialists. They are preparing the proletariat for a revolution against those who oppressed them and are gaining political strength. They have locals in every big city and published weeklies in a number of different languages. The party is controlled by its own membership and has no bosses. One of the biggest principles of the party is that of no compromise. After learning the tenets of Socialism, Jurgis is blissful. He finally understands how the Beef Trust worked, and how it has kept him down. It isn't fate; it is greed. He learned from the Socialists that capitalism is dangerous because it breeds greed and greed has kept people in squalor and endless toil.

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