The Jungle - Chapters 15-16 Summary & Analysis

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Winter comes again and the family returns to the struggle of dealing with the weather on top of their hard work. Shortly before Thanksgiving, Elzbieta wakes Jurgis to tell him that Ona never came home the night before. Jurgis goes in search for her, finally finding her outside the plant where she works. Ona tells Jurgis that she spent the night with a friend because the weather made it impossible for her to get home.

A few weeks later, Ona again fails to come home. Jurgis goes straight to her friend’s house only to learn not only was Ona not there, but that Ona had never stayed the night with them. When Jurgis finally finds Ona, he demands to know where she was. Ona tries to convince him not to ask, but when this fails, she finally tells him one of the bosses at her job approached her months before and told her if she did not have an intimate relationship with him, he would have her entire family blacklisted with the packing house. This would mean that they would be unable to make a living. Ona submitted to him then and many times afterward. The two nights she went missing, the man had insisted she go to a house in the city he owns and spend several hours with him. The first night a winter storm made it impossible for her to get home. On the second night, a problem with the streetcars caused her to be stranded.

Jurgis becomes enraged when Ona tells her story. Without stopping to think of the consequences, Jurgis goes to the packing house and beats up the boss. Jurgis is arrested and taken to jail.

Jurgis is taken to a cell and left alone for the night. The following morning, Jurgis is taken to court where he is held over for a week to wait to see how Connor, the man he attacked, does with his injuries. Jurgis discovers that it is Christmas Eve and recalls how happy the family was the previous Christmas despite their poverty. Jurgis worries about his family and how they will survive without him.


Ona begins disappearing at night. Jurgis quickly discovers she is lying to him and forces her to tell him the truth. Ona is destroyed by having to tell the man she loves the truth. However, Ona’s predicament is one that many women in this time period were faced with. Men who had some power, whether it be political or through employment, felt they had the right to do as they pleased to these desperate women. For this reason, Ona was placed in a position where she felt she had no choice.

Upon learning about the terrible thing that has happened to his wife, Jurgis finds his passion. However, this passion is a blind one that keeps him from seeing the consequences of any actions. Jurgis attacks a boss, a man who has power over him through his job and, most likely, the local government. Jurgis is arrested. This situation could only mean more trouble for the family because Jurgis will more than likely lose his job and his source of income.

Jurgis realizes too late the consequences of his actions on his family. Jurgis’s family cannot survive without his income, especially since they are already late with their house payments and struggling with only the income of two women and three children. This shows the reader that Jurgis’s love for Ona is so complete that his anger over her injury was too much for him to handle and remember how badly the family needs him. Unfortunately, Jurgis is now in a warm jail where he will get three square meals a day while his family starves without his income.

Discussion Question 1

Why does Ona stop coming home at night? Why does Jurgis worry about her? What is his first assumption about Ona’s disappearance? What does this imply about the world he lives in?

Discussion Question 2

Why does Jurgis attack the man who hurt his wife? What would a modern man have done? Why does Jurgis get arrested? Did he have a reasonable defense for his actions? What might happen to him in the future?

Discussion Question 3

Who is Jurgis’s judge? What is important about his identity? What does this suggest for Jurgis’s chances of getting out of jail quickly?


Summoned, unconscious, enemy, writhing, seized, hanging, smashing, demon, aroused, madness, consequence, assailant, corridor, packing, furnace, bounded, particularly, wounded, terrified, possessed, furiously, exhaustion, compelled, frenzied, vengeance, defiance, declared, unbelief, rebellion, justice, wronged, society, treated, feelings, reason, affections, senses, interfered, substance, force, mockery, brutal, hideous, upraised, hatred, punish.

This section contains 787 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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