The Jungle - Chapters 25-26 Summary & Analysis

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Summary

Jurgis takes his hundred dollar bill to a saloon to have it cashed, but the bartender steals it. Jurgis tries to beat the man up, but he man gets the better of him and then claims to the police that Jurgis had a knife. Jurgis is arrested once again. In court, the bartender lies and once again the judge believes the victim over Jurgis. Jurgis is sentenced to ten days and costs at Bridewell. When Jurgis arrives at Bridewell, he discovers Jack Duane there as well. When Jurgis is released, he goes to Duane and they go into business together, mugging people on the street. It proves to be quite profitable for Jurgis and he soon gets into other illegal activities with Duane.

One day Jurgis meets Buck Halloran, a lieutenant of Mike Scully’s. After Jurgis and Duane do a job for Halloran, Halloran offers Jurgis a job helping with an election scam in Packingtown. Halloran arranges for Jurgis to get a job at one of the packinghouses where he will encourage the men to join the Republican Party and vote for the Republican candidate. Scully, a Democrat, had made a deal with the Republicans that he will allow their candidate to be elected if they will not oppose him when he next comes up for election. Jurgis plays his role well and helps win the election for the Republican candidate.

After the elections, Jurgis continues to work at the packing houses because it is familiar, he has good friends, and he has found ways to make extra money on the side. After a time, however, a strike breaks out. Jurgis goes to Mike Scully and asks for a job while on strike. Scully tells Jurgis that he would be better off if he breaks the strike and becomes a scab. After listening to Scully’s explanation, Jurgis does just that. Jurgis finds himself working alongside clerical staff in the killing room.

During the strike, for his own protection, Jurgis is confined to the yards, which means he sleeps there as well. Occasionally Jurgis is able to leave by a railroad in the yards to visit the city. Over time, the packers bring in black men from the south to do most of the work. Jurgis is promoted to boss of the killing room, but he finds it almost impossible to force his scabs to do the work like the men they are replacing.

When the strike ends, the packers refuse to give jobs back to the leaders of the union despite the agreement that ended the strike. For this reason, the union orders another strike. Jurgis has a good deal there so he remains although it is unclear if he will still be a boss when it is all over. Then one night Jurgis returns to the yards drunk from the city and finds himself face to face with Connor. Jurgis attacks him. Halloran helps Jurgis make bail even though Connor is a friend of Scully’s and Jurgis disappears into the city.

Analysis

Jurgis turns to a life of crime after he is once again arrested for a fight that was not his fault. Jurgis is tired of being cheated by society, and this helps ease his conscious as he steals from people on the street, gambles, and cheats the government. Jurgis learns through his activities that everyone does something illegal, from the plant owners to the government officials to the theif on the street. Jurgis is simply trying to survive.

After having lost everything and being blacklisted in Packingtown, Jurgis finds himself back there. However, this time Jurgis works out of the pocket of local boss Mike Scully. This gives Jurgis not only the clout he needs to get a job but more money than he could ever make on his own in Packingtown. Jurgis returns in triumph and prospers, but at the cost of the immigrants who took his place.

Jurgis has returned to Packingtown triumphantly and is making good money. It is a stark contrast to the life Jurgis had the last time he lived in Packingtown. Jurgis has clearly changed since his early days in Packingtown and not all the change is good.

When the workers in Packingtown go on strike, Jurgis initially walks out with them. However, Jurgis sees the advantages of being a scab, so he breaks the strike and returns to work. This pits Jurgis against the men who are in the same place he was not so long ago. Jurgis finds himself helping the very people who caused his family to be homeless and starving, who allowed a man to take advantage of his wife and more than likely led to her death. However, Jurgis does not see it this way. Jurgis is a man who had been desperate and he likes having money and a place to live no matter what he has to do to get it. Jurgis does not want to be desperate again.

Discussion Question 1

Why does Jurgis have a one hundred dollar bill? Why does he try to have it cashed? Why does this cause Jurgis to be arrested again?

Discussion Question 2

Why does Jurgis return to Packingtown? What does he do there? For what reason? How does this benefit Jurgis? Why does he not find his family still in Packingtown?

Discussion Question 3

Why does Jurgis break the strike? What does this say about his loyalties? What does this suggest for his future? Is Jurgis a hypocrite for turning his back on the workers? What might Jurgis have done differently?

Vocabulary

Gamble, government, exultation, election, unholy, Republican, Democrat, corruption, polling, precinct, balance, safecracking, pawn shop, triumph, escorted, plurality, landslides, actual, strikebreaker, scab, forfeiting, silence, trial, explained, bail, strike, trouble, magistrate, beaten, extinguished, remanded, insensibility, victim, precisely, recognized, rage, frenzy, concerned, remainder, confessed, deserving, lantern, remainder.

This section contains 974 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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