The Jungle | Study Guide

Upton Sinclair

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The Jungle | Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

While begging one evening, Jurgis has a chance encounter with Frederick Jones, the son of the factory owner Jurgis once worked for. "Freddie" stumbles drunkenly out of a bar one evening and, taken by Jurgis's story, invites him home for a lavish dinner. Freddie gives Jurgis a one-hundred-dollar bill to pay the taxi fare, but upon returning home, he seems to forget about the money and orders his butler to pay the taxi. In awe of the splendor of Freddie's home, Jurgis remains silent about the money in his pocket. Jurgis entertains the intoxicated Freddie for the evening and, when Freddie finally passes out, the annoyed butler kicks Jurgis out with the money still safely hidden in his pocket.

Analysis

Jurgis's encounter with Freddie Jones, the wealthy son of his old boss, is another trick of chance. Jurgis is brought home to entertain the drunk boy. Freddie clearly has a difficult relationship with his wealthy father, whom he calls "the Admiral" and, feeling drunkenly depressed, feels a sense of camaraderie with Jurgis because, as Freddie says, they are both "up against it." Freddie's comparison is verbal irony: he and Jurgis are nothing alike. In fact, Freddie's entire lavish existence has been created by exploiting hard-working men like Jurgis. His wealthy life was built on Jurgis's back, and Jurgis's misfortune is a direct result of cruel exploitation by "the Admiral." Even the evening's encounter is degrading for Jurgis. He has been brought in to entertain the depressed young man and is literally tossed out onto the street when he has completed the job. Jurgis thinks he has gotten the better of Jones this time, however, by pocketing the one-hundred-dollar bill. The lost money likely won't even receive a second thought from Freddie, but for Jurgis, the sum could be life-changing.

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