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The Jungle | Chapter 28 | Summary

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Summary

During a lunch with Marija, Jurgis learns that she has become hopelessly addicted to morphine—as most of the prostitutes are. She encourages Jurgis to reconnect with Elzbieta and what is left of the family. She promises that no one blames him for abandoning them, and that they will be happy to see him. Unsure, Jurgis wanders the streets for a while before taking shelter in a free political rally. At first he plans to sleep in the warm room, but when he begins snoring, the wealthy woman next to him says, "If you would try to listen, comrade, perhaps you would be interested." Jurgis is so shocked to be addressed formally by a rich woman that he begins to pay attention. The speaker, who has enraptured the audience, preaches the benefits of socialism. He speaks passionately about exploitation in the workplace and the plight of the working poor, not only because he witnesses it, but because he lived it. His life's experiences are eerily similar to Jurgis's. As Jurgis listens, he feels overwhelmed with emotion and is easily swept into the great orator's passion. He feels like he's in a dream, in a world of possibility and hope.

Analysis

Jurgis's conversation with Marija is depressing. Marija, a woman who has always been characterized by her determination and loyalty, has essentially given up. She knows the drugs are killing her, and that working as a prostitute has "ruined" her, yet she sees no other means of survival.

At the political meeting, Jurgis is enraptured by the eloquent speech given by the socialist leader. Unlike the religious sermons which angered Jurgis, this "preacher's" stories validate Jurgis's struggle and offer him a real hope for the future. He is overcome with the emotions he has buried for so long, reminding readers of the line from Chapter 14, "the souls of none of them were dead, but only sleeping." Through socialism he feels human again, and as if he truly has a chance to better not only his life, but the lives of all those suffering around him.

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