by Upton Sinclair
The Jungle Chapter 23 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 23
- He starts walking the rounds at the mills and factories (everything except the stockyards) looking for a job.
- He finds a job ad in the paper and applies even though he thinks it's probably some kind of scam.
- The man taking names at this place asks Jurgis if he has ever worked in Chicago.
- Jurgis lies and says he's from Kansas City. He doesn't want to be saddled by his old life.
- The job all takes place underground: Jurgis is digging the new Chicago subway system.
- By the way, this system has never really taken off and most of Chicago's public transit trains are above ground (source).
- This public transit system is the result of some kind backstage wheeling and dealing between a bunch of different big Chicago companies and none of the work is being done by unionized labor.
- Still, Jurgis doesn't care. He's just happy that he's involved with a new tunnel so the work should be steady for the whole winter.
- Jurgis rents a room in a nearby tenement and starts to settle down.
- However, Jurgis also starts up another old habit: he hangs out at the local bars for much of the evening to escape the cold weather.
- Building underground tunnels is extremely dangerous work, as Jurgis discovers up close and personal (of course – this guy is a ridiculous disaster magnet).
- Jurgis is walking out of work one night when a loaded railway car zips around the tracks and knocks Jurgis into the concrete wall of the tunnel.
- He wakes up in the hospital with a badly broken arm.
- Jurgis has to leave the hospital after two weeks, but his arm is still weak and he can no longer work. He also has no more pay left.
- So, yet once more, Jurgis finds himself out on the streets in the middle of the Chicago winter.
- Jurgis goes from bar to bar trying to get warm, but he doesn't have enough money to buy drinks or settle in for an evening.
- Jurgis is desperately cold when he hears the sounds of a church service going on nearby.
- He goes in to the meeting to hear an evangelist preaching about sin.
- Jurgis isn't really interested in religion. He's just looking for shelter from the cold.
- Jurgis listens to this preacher and starts to feel resentful.
- Even though the preacher means well, he is comfortable and warm. He's out of touch with the real suffering that he pretends to address with his religion.
- Jurgis has a few dimes left, so he finally goes off to his lodging house for a bed to sleep in.
- He can't really afford this, but it is so cold that he would freeze to death if he didn't.
- The only way Jurgis can make any money at all is by begging.
- Since he's fresh out of the hospital and pathetic-looking, Jurgis should make a mint.
- He's up against professional beggars, though, who use makeup to make themselves appear worse off than they are.
- Some of his fellow beggars are also really, really badly off – much more desperate even than poor Jurgis.
- So, Jurgis doesn't really stand out among the crowd.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 23