the jungle - Plot Overview Jurgis Rudkus and Ona Lukoszaite...

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Plot Overview Jurgis Rudkus and Ona Lukoszaite, a young man and woman who have recently immigrated to Chicago from Lithuania, hold their wedding feast at a bar in an area of Chicago known as Packingtown. The couple and several relatives have come to Chicago in search of a better life, but Packingtown, the center of Lithuanian immigration and of Chicago’s meatpacking industry, is a hard, dangerous, and filthy place where it is difficult to find a job. After the reception, Jurgis and Ona discover that they are more than a hundred dollars in debt to the saloonkeeper. In Lithuania, custom dictates that guests at a wedding-feast leave money to cover the cost, but in America, many of the impoverished immigrants leave the feast without leaving any money. Jurgis, who has great faith in the American Dream, vows that he will simply work harder to make more money. Jurgis, who is young and energetic, quickly finds work, as do Marija Berczynskas , Ona’s cousin, and Jonas , the brother of Ona’s stepmother, Teta Elzbieta . The family signs an agreement to buy a house, but it turns out to be a swindle; the agreement is full of hidden costs, and the house is shoddy and poorly maintained. As the family’s living expenses increase, even Ona and young Stanislovas , one of Teta Elzbieta’s children, are forced to look for jobs. Jobs in Packingtown involve back-breaking labor, however, conducted in unsafe conditions with little regard for individual workers. Furthermore, the immigrant community is fraught with crime and corruption. Jurgis’s father, Dede Antanas , finds a job only after agreeing to pay another man a third of his wages for helping him obtain the job. But the job is too difficult for the old man, and it quickly kills him. Winter is the most dangerous season in Packingtown and even Jurgis, forced to work in an unheated slaughterhouse in which it is difficult to see, risks his life every day by simply going to work. Marija is courted by Tamoszius, a likable violinist, but the couple is never able to marry because they never have enough money to hold a wedding. Marija’s factory closes down and she loses her job. Distressed about the terrible conditions of his family members’ lives, Jurgis joins a union and slowly begins to understand the web of political corruption and bribery that makes Packingtown run. Hoping to improve his lot, Jurgis begins trying to learn English. Marija regains her job, but she is fired when she complains about being cheated out of some of her pay. Ona is now pregnant, and her job has become increasingly difficult for her. Her supervisor, Miss Henderson , oversees a prostitution ring, and most of the other girls at the factory are made to be prostitutes. Ona gives birth to a healthy boy, whom she and Jurgis name Antanas after Jurgis’s late father, but she is forced to return to work only seven days later. In Packingtown, any mishap can bring ruin upon a family. Jurgis sprains his ankle and is forced to spend nearly three
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the jungle - Plot Overview Jurgis Rudkus and Ona Lukoszaite...

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