Chapter 7 Notes from The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 7

The family toils all summer and in the fall, they have enough money for Jurgis and Ona to marry. As Lithuanian tradition dictates, they spare no expense in the wedding feast because they'll earn every penny back during the Acziarimas Ceremony. However, this did not happen and after the feast, the family is a hundred dollars in debt-an impossible sum. Meanwhile, Jurgis is coming to understand that he is engaged in a war against corruption and against every other man out there-a war against the world. Ona becomes quite ill but still has to trudge to work. With the terrible Chicago winter coming on, the family faces a number of problems. They don't know that sewage is pooling under the house. They do not know that the milk they buy each day is doctored with formaldehyde to keep its spoilage inconspicuous. The cellars in which a number of the family members work are unheated, leaving the workers frozen to the bone. Antanas's cough grows worse in the pickling rooms and because his feet are soaked in the chemicals that pool on the floor, he develops horrible sores. One day, Antanas collapses at work and is unable to get up again. Tuberculosis is consuming him, though he doesn't know it. When he dies, the family can't afford a funeral-just a hearse. Winter brings disease to the yards. When a man doesn't show up for work, the boss assumes he is gravely ill or dead and steps outside to pick a man to replace the worker from the thousands of starving, frozen men waiting outside the gates for a chance to work. The snow is so deep, and the roads in the yards so ill-managed, that it is often next to impossible to get to work. Stanislovas witnesses a little boy with severe frostbite to his ears have them ripped off when a man rubs them vigorously to try to save them. After that, Stanislovas develops a manic fear of the cold and throws a fit before work each day. The killing beds are always as cold as the chill outside. The blood from the butchering freezes in clumps on the men's clothes. When the boss isn't looking, the men often plunge their feet into the steaming steer carcasses to keep from freezing. During their lunch break, the workers run to the saloons on Ashland Avenue. These saloons are informal union headquarters and general gathering places for the men of the yards. Many workers become alcoholics.

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