The Jungle | Study Guide

Upton Sinclair

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The Jungle | Chapter 11 | Summary

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Summary

Marija finds a job as a beef trimmer in a canning factory. She is able to begin saving again, and once again begins dreaming of a wedding. She opens a savings account to keep her money safe. One morning, however, Marija sees a huge line outside the bank and hears that it's gone bankrupt. She spends two full days in line waiting to withdraw her money during the "run." When she finally reaches the counter, she gets her money; learning it was completely safe all along, she wants to re-deposit it, but the bank refuses to let her. She has no choice but to sew the money into her clothes and wear it on her all times. Meanwhile, Jurgis and Ona are also able to scrape a few dollars together to put in savings, especially with the extra cash Jurgis makes for selling his vote during election season.

Winter returns, bringing deep snow and freezing winds. Jurgis must carry both Ona and Stanislovas on his shoulders to and from work—Ona because she is so fragile, and Stanislovas because he is so terrified of the cold. Jurgis fears they will not survive the winter. One afternoon, a steer runs amok in the killing bed and while scrambling to escape, Jurgis twists his ankle. At first he thinks the injury is nothing, but by the end of the day he can hardly walk. He misses three weeks of work and plunges into a terrible depression. The only relief is that he is able to spend time with baby Antanas.

Analysis

The family's hopes rebound as Marija finds a new job and they can start saving again. As usual, this relief is short-lived; Jurgis's injury is a calamity. Throughout the text, no matter how devastating the family's situation is, they always have each other for support. This mutual caring is part of their humanity. This relationship is illustrated in Jurgis's selfless act of physically carrying Ona and Stanislovas to work each morning, lugging them over his shoulders like "sacks of meal." Once Jurgis is injured, however, he is no longer able to support his family physically or financially. This change represents another blow to Jurgis's sense of himself as a provider, and another blow to the concept of family. Additionally, Sinclair hints at the deep despair that is beginning to grow in Jurgis.

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