The Jungle - Chapters 19-20 Summary & Analysis

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This section contains 698 words
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Summary

Jurgis convinces a midwife to come see to Ona for the one dollar and a quarter as well as a promise to pay her twenty-four dollars by the end of the month. Jurgis takes her to the house, but he is again turned out by Aniele and Marija. Jurgis goes to a local saloon where the bartender has pity on him and gives him a meal, a drink, and a place to sleep. Late in the night, Jurgis returns to the house to find Ona quiet. Finally the midwife comes down and tells Jurgis the baby has died and Ona is dying. Jurgis rushes up to see Ona. She focuses on him for a brief second before she dies. Lost in grief, Jurgis takes three dollars from Kotrina, Elzbieta’s daughter, who has just returned from selling papers, and leaves.

Jurgis returns to Aniele’s after his money runs out and sits with Ona’s body. Elzbieta convinces Jurgis to go find a job and continue to help the family for the sake of his son with Ona, Antanas. Jurgis immediately goes in search of a job, but learns he has been blacklisted in the stockyards because of his attack on Connor. For this reason, Jurgis goes into the city to look for a job there. Jurgis looks for weeks and finally, after running into an old friend from the packing houses, he finds a job at a farm equipment manufacturing plant. This is a good job that pays well, allowing Jurgis to begin to pay off the debts his family owes and to care for the family. However, after only a short time, the plant shuts down for a lack of demand.

Analysis

Jurgis has promised to care for Ona all her life. Jurgis tries to keep this promise by getting Ona help during premature labor with their second child, but it is already too late by the time he convinces a midwife to come. Jurgis is emotionally destroyed by Ona’s death. Considering the circumstances of their last meeting, the reader can only imagine how many regrets each has at this point. Ona was always something of a frail woman, so her death is not a big surprise to the reader. However, it is a gigantic blow to Jurgis. Ona has always been his motivation, his reason for fighting in this horrible life.

Jurgis spends time getting drunk after his wife’s death in a need to numb his emotions. However, Jurgis is not the kind of man who can remain blind and deaf to his family’s needs. Jurgis immediately goes in search of a job to care for the family. Unfortunately, he cannot find a job in Packingtown. This situation is as desperate as the family has been since coming to America, and it seems only to grow worse as each day passes. A ray of hope comes when Jurgis gets a job at a farm equipment manufacturing plant. Within nine days of his being hired, the plant closes, leaving Jurgis without an income once again. This is the third job Jurgis has lost since coming to America only three years before, making the reader wonder if Jurgis will ever find a way to support his family that will not end in injury or death.

Discussion Question 1

What causes Ona’s death? Why did she go into premature labor? How did her previous health impact her pregnancy and her death?

Discussion Question 2

What does Elzbieta say to Jurgis to make him promise to find a job? Is this speech fair? Why does Elzbieta expect Jurgis to search for work rather than have a funeral for his wife? How does this indicate a change in Elzbieta’s attitude toward tradition since her arrival in America?

Discussion Question 3

What kind of job does Jurgis find? How is it different from working in the packing houses? Does Jurgis like the job? Why does it end?

Vocabulary

Manner, commanded, happened, demanded, unsteadily, death, shuddering, recognition, mangled, tortured, seized, shadowy, void, annihilation, loneliness, inconsolable, groping, forlorn, harvester, support, skilled, treated, opposite, jealous, dreamed, attention, required, traveling, monopoly, admiring, performing, outdoors, strength, bitter, necessitating, direction, blessing, assembled.

This section contains 698 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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