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The Jungle

The Jungle


by Upton Sinclair

The Jungle Chapter 25 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 25
  • Jurgis is humiliated by Hamilton's treatment, but he's still delighted: he has a hundred dollar bill!
  • But where is he supposed to use it? He'll have to find somewhere to break the hundred into more usable bills.
  • Jurgis goes into a bar and asks if he can have change for a hundred.
  • The bartender says he'll change it if Jurgis buys something. Jurgis orders a beer.
  • The bartender gives Jurgis his beer – and 95 cents in change.
  • When Jurgis protests that he gave the bartender a hundred, the bartender tells Jurgis he's crazy and tries to kick Jurgis out of the bar.
  • Jurgis attacks the bartender, which is what the bartender wants.
  • The bartender knocks Jurgis out and calls the cops.
  • The bartender accuses Jurgis of pulling a knife on him.
  • A cop on the scene uses his billy club to beat the crap out of Jurgis.
  • In the hub-bub, the bartender stows the hundred-dollar bill away.
  • Then the cop drags Jurgis to the police station.
  • When Jurgis is taken in for sentencing, he can't explain where he got the hundred-dollar bill. Or rather, he can explain, but no one believes him.
  • Jurgis tells the courtroom that a man gave the money to Jurgis freely when Jurgis had been begging on the street.
  • The judge thinks Jurgis is a drunk and a liar – and Jurgis's record of biting people's cheeks doesn't help – so the judge sentences Jurgis to ten days in jail plus costs.
  • So, Jurgis gets carted off to jail again.
  • Oddly, he finds Jack Duane, the dashing safe cracker, in the same prison.
  • Jurgis tells Jack Duane what's happened to him since they last met in jail.
  • Jack Duane replies that he's in jail yet again on a fake charge.
  • Jurgis doesn't see many familiar faces in jail, but it's all the same kind of guy.
  • And Jurgis realizes that he's going to be one of them. When he gets out of jail, he has decided to become a real criminal.
  • So, after Jurgis is released, he decides to go seek out Jack Duane to see if he can be of any help to Jack.
  • He finds Jack Duane in the back room of a pawnbroker and a fence for stolen goods.
  • Jack Duane is glad to see Jurgis because he needs Jurgis's help (and muscles) to start doing some mugging.
  • The two wait at the side of the road for rich-looking guys to rob.
  • They split the proceeds equally and make pretty good money.
  • Jurgis reads about the victim the next day – the guy's going to lose three fingers to frostbite after being knocked unconscious – and Jurgis feels guilty.
  • Still, Jack Duane says it's either that guy or them, and he'd pick the other guy every time.
  • In this rotten system, that guy is probably exploiting or hurting someone else. He deserves what he gets.
  • Jurgis gets up close and personal with Chicago's criminal world.
  • He discovers that businessmen use lots of money to pay off the city's officials to serve their interests. That's the big picture.
  • But in more local corruption, the police, fire, and water departments have more direct relationships with ordinary businesspeople.
  • So, all the bars pay off cops to look the other way when they serve liquor on Sunday.
  • All the brothels pay the cops to look the other way when they engage in prostitution.
  • There are tons of these kinds of street-level bribes to keep the city's criminal activities going strong.
  • Jack Duane introduces Jurgis to a political operative named "Buck" Halloran.
  • This guy sends Jurgis in to collect election bribes under a series of different names – "Johann Schmidt," "Serge Reminitsky," and "Michael O'Flaherty." Politicians are buying votes, and Jurgis is the frontman for this operation.
  • Because Jurgis now associates with an important political machine, he suddenly has pull in court.
  • This means that, when he appears on trial again on a drunk and disorderly charge, he's given a slap on the wrist and allowed to go. What a change of luck!
  • Jurgis and Jack Duane keep mugging people and making cash.
  • They do this by bribing a bartender to look the other way while they track down drunk people coming in from out of town to rob.
  • So, naturally, they become friendly with this bartender who they keep paying off.
  • The bartender points them in the direction of a guy named Goldberger.
  • Goldberger gives Jurgis and Jack Duane tips about who they should rob next (in other words, who no one in Chicago will step up to assist in court).
  • Goldberger also lets them in on some sweet information about horse racing in New Orleans. Apparently, all these races are rigged, and Goldberger knows about them.
  • So, Jurgis and Jack Duane get in on horse betting as well.
  • Around this time, Jurgis and Jack Duane part ways.
  • Jack Duane gets caught red-handed drilling into a safe and has to leave town.
  • Jurgis, meanwhile, bumps into that night-watchman from all the way back in Chapter 9, who got Jurgis his citizenship. This is the guy who bought Jurgis's vote for a local political machine.
  • Now that they have met up again, the night-watchman makes Jurgis an offer.
  • The night-watchman works for a guy named "Bush" Harper, who in turn works for Mike Scully, one of the richest and most influential men in Packingtown.
  • Mike Scully is a Democrat, but he has worked out a back-room deal with the local Republican party for the next couple of elections.
  • The next Democratic nominee for a city council position is a rich Jewish man.
  • Mike Scully isn't very invested in the Democratic nominee because he has his own prejudices.
  • Scully himself, however, is coming up for reelection in the next election after this.
  • So, what Scully secretly offers the Republicans is this: he will give them money from this poor Democratic nominee's election fund as long as the Republicans promise not to raise a candidate against Mike Scully in the following election after this.
  • It's a trade of city council positions: Mike Scully will sacrifice this election as long as he is guaranteed to win the next one.
  • The one trouble in this deal is that there is a new movement gaining steam in the packing yards: socialism.
  • Mike Scully is worried that the hot-head Democrats of Packingtown would prefer to go with the Socialist Party candidate over some random Republican.
  • So "Bush" Harper hires Jurgis, who is well-known as a union man and has lots of union connections.
  • He wants Jurgis to go back to the meatpacking plants to lobby for the Republican candidate with his old union buddies.
  • Jurgis doesn't see how this is going to work, since he's been blacklisted from working in Packingtown.
  • "Bush" Harper promises that won't be a problem.
  • So Jurgis agrees, and he gets to meet Mike Scully, the most important man in Packingtown.
  • Mike Scully personally gives Jurgis a note to take to the head manager of Durham's packing plant, Mr. Harmon.
  • The note tells Harmon to hire Jurgis as a personal favor to Mike Scully.
  • Mr. Harmon offers Jurgis a job as a night watchman.
  • Jurgis refuses because he needs to be surrounded by the workers.
  • Mr. Harmon lets Jurgis take a job trimming hogs.
  • Again, what a reversal of luck: Jurgis once begged for this job and was refused. Now, he gets automatically appointed to the hog-killing room.
  • The boss of the room, "Pat" Murphy, is specifically ordered to make room for Jurgis.
  • Jurgis joins the union again right away. He tells everyone to vote for "Scotty" Doyle – the Republican candidate. He also trashtalks the millionaire who is the Democratic candidate – what does he know about the working man?
  • Jurgis brings dozens of guys to join the Doyle the Republican's campaign.
  • This is how Jurgis becomes a politician without making a single speech: by working hard around the factory drumming up support for a candidate he doesn't care about at all with the secret backing of Mike Scully.
  • So, when reliably Democratic Packingtown elects a Republican representative, Jurgis goes out on a bender with the money he has made fixing the election.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 25

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