The Jungle - Study Guide Chapters 5-6 Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 44 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Jungle.
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Summary

The family buys furniture on credit and moves into their new home. The house is small, and the rooms are overcrowded with the large family, but they have a roof over their heads and will soon have money in the bank. At the same time, Jurgis has settled into his job and finds that he enjoys it even as his coworkers complain. Jurgis is approached by the union, but he laughs them off because he does not think that the things the union wants to change are necessary. A friend of Jurgis’s, Tamoszius, tells him some of the truths of the packing houses, but Jurgis refuses to believe him.

Jurgis’s only concern at this point is his father Antanas. Antanas desperately wants a job, but he is too old to find employment in the packing houses. For months, Antanas goes in search of work. Finally, Antanas is given a position in the pickle rooms, the basement of the packing houses where meat that has been soaked in chemicals are fished out of their vats. Antanas’ job is to sweep this left over chemical filled water off the floors. It is a wet and dirty job, but Antanas is happy to finally have a job.

All the jobs are dangerous. Marija has learned that the job she has was taken from a woman with a small child to support who became ill with tuberculosis. Jonas’s job shoveling guts allowed him to witness the supervisors distracting government inspectors so that the men can cut up illegal types of meat. Jurgis himself was part of a crew who butchered sick and dead animals that are not supposed to be used.

Jurgis and Ona have put off their wedding time and again in a desire to have enough money to pay for everything. It does not help that Elzbieta insists that they have a traditional wedding. However, they finally decide they have waited long enough and hope that most of the cost of the reception will be returned to them in donations from their friends and family.

Not long after they buy the house, the family meets a neighbor who is also from Lithuania. This woman tells them about the hidden fees in the deed they signed, specifically the interest they must pay each month. Jurgis confronts the agent and makes him tell them about all the fees in the deed he did not explain before. They learn that in addition to their monthly payment of twelve dollars, they will also be expected to pay seven dollars in interest. Then, once a year they will be responsible for the taxes on the property and a water payment. Also, sometime in the future, they will be responsible for the cost of installing a sidewalk and sewer. This news surprises and shocks the family, but they realize they have no choice but to accept these fees. Ona immediately sets out to find work along with Elzbieta’s eldest child, twelve year old Stanislovas.

Analysis

The family moves into their new home and everything seems perfect in their world. However, at work they are all beginning to hear and see things that suggest a difficult future ahead for them. Things at the packing houses are not as perfect as they had thought at first. Things go on that are against the law, processes that use meat that has the potential of sickening hundreds of people who consume it. However, Jurgis refuses to see these things as a foreshadowing of trouble for him and his family in the future.

The family learns shortly after moving into their home all the hidden fees that they will be responsible for paying. This includes interest and taxes. The family had believed they were saving money by buying, not renting. Now, however, they discover they will be paying out as much each month as they would have had they rented and will have annual payments on top of that. It is a situation that places the family in a difficult financial position, forcing both Ona and Elzbieta’s son Stanislovas to get a job. The reader knew there would be trouble when the family first began discussing the purchase of this house.

Discussion Question 1

Why does Antanas want a job? Why does Jurgis continue to allow his father to search for work even though he knows it is policy for the packinghouses not to hire older men? How does Antanas get job? What is wrong with this?

Discussion Question 2

Why does Jurgis refuse to hear bad things about the packinghouses? Why does he turn down the unions when they approach him? What does Jurgis think of the illegal activities taking place in the packinghouses? Why?

Discussion Question 3

Why does Ona get a job? Why did she not get a job before? Why does Stanislovas get a job? Is it legal for Stanislovas to get a job? Explain.

Vocabulary

Somber, raised, nonchalance, routine, gored, broken, injured, proceeded, conversation, inspector, packers, fodder, predecessor, crushed, profession, curious, compared, incidents, threescore, uneven, delay, calculating, stifled, discovered, engaged, remorseless, comply, document, lard, creatures, beautiful, unpleasant, automatically, quantity, sallied, consulting, conference, interview, presents, surprised, reported.

This section contains 863 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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