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by Upton Sinclair
The Jungle Chapter 22 Summary
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Jurgis stands still in shock for a few minutes after Mrs. Jukniene tells him that his baby son is dead. Then, Jurgis goes upstairs to the attic. He finds Teta Elzbieta fainting next to Antanas's body. Marija is pacing and screaming. Marija tells Jurgis that Antanas refused to listen to any of the women of the house. He ran outside without paying attention to their warnings not to do so. Once outside, he got caught in the mud and drowned in the street. (Remember, Antanas was one and a half, so still really small.) Jurgis goes straight out the door. But this time, he doesn't walk to the nearest bar. He just keeps walking. Jurgis decides that Antanas is better off dead. This is no world for women and children. Now Jurgis is free at last. He's going to fight against the world. Jurgis jumps on a passing train and rides out into the countryside. It's been so long since he has seen the fresh landscape of the country – even trees, he hasn't seen since coming to the United States. Jurgis jumps off the train and goes to a nearby farmhouse. Jurgis buys some breakfast from the farmer's wife. He lies down next to a stream and feels sleepy and happy. When he wakes up, he decides to have a proper bath in a nearby pool. Jurgis feels like a child again as he swims around. He begins to feel clean at last as he washes all the crap and lice out of his hair and off his body. Jurgis washes his clothes as well. He hopes that they will stop smelling of fertilizer. Jurgis naps in the sun as he hangs his clothes up to dry. Jurgis walks to another farmhouse and asks to buy food. The farmer tells Jurgis to go away: "We don't feed tramps here" (22.30). Jurgis walks off, but in revenge, he yanks all the farmer's newly planted baby peach trees out of the ground. Jurgis has decided that he's not going to take anymore bad treatment from anyone ever again. Jurgis reaches another farmhouse. He offers to pay for food and shelter. The farmer accepts his money for dinner and lets Jurgis stay in his barn for free. The farmer offers Jurgis a job after dinner. Jurgis refuses; he doesn't want another job that isn't year round (and, of course, winter in Illinois isn't a good time for farming unless you want to harvest snow). The next day, Jurgis heads off again. Jurgis is becoming a tramp. He sleeps in fields and shelters in deserted buildings when it rains. Jurgis lives off the land as much as he can. He picks blackberries, raspberries, apples, and other things that are making us hungry to think about. Eating good food, resting plenty, and working as much as he needs to to get by, Jurgis finds his health coming back. Jurgis occasionally hangs out with other tramps and hobos, but mostly, he walks where he wants to go. Harvest season comes around. Jurgis finds plenty of work and plenty of money. Now he has nothing to spend it on and no reason to save. So, on a Saturday night, Jurgis goes into town and has a rioting good time with a prostitute. He wakes up the next morning penniless and ashamed of himself. Jurgis walks out of town and tries to repress his guilt, but he can't. He still feels that he has done the wrong thing by falling into this cycle of working hard and playing hard. One night, there is a big storm. Jurgis shelters with a farmer and his family. This farmer is a new immigrant from Russia. He has a baby, a little boy about a year old. (Uh oh! We sense a trip down memory lane coming to Jurgis!) This baby has a rash all over his body – nothing too serious; it sounds like heat rash. The baby is very healthy looking in spite of his red spots. Jurgis sees this happy child, enjoying life even though he is suffering some physical setbacks. He hears the baby lisping Russian to his mother. Jurgis suddenly starts to cry. He is heartbroken that he has lost his family and he is ashamed of his own behavior after their deaths.
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