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by Upton Sinclair
Jurgis Rudkus Timeline and Summary
Jurgis Rudkus falls in love with a girl from a nearby town, Ona Lukoszaite. Jurgis, Ona, Teta Elzbieta, Teta Elzbieta's six children, Marija Berczynskas, Antanas Rudkus, and Jonas all decide to head to America. The family arrives in Chicago. Jurgis heads straight out to the stockyards. He is big and strong, and he finds employment right away. Once Jurgis, Antanas, Marija, and Jonas all have work, the family decides to buy a house. Unexpected interest payments crop up, and Ona and Stanislovas have to join the work force, too. Jurgis and Ona get married. Jurgis's father develops a persistent cough and dies. Ona is about to have a baby, and Jurgis works his butt off to earn money for a doctor. Ona gives birth to their first child, a healthy baby boy. They name him Antanas in honor of Jurgis's father. Summer comes and work picks up. Jurgis gets injured on the job and has to stay in bed for a couple of months. Jurgis grows increasingly frustrated with his injury and takes it out on his family (especially young Stanislovas). The family has no choice but to send Teta Elzbieta, Vilimas (eleven), and Nikolajus (ten) out into the workforce. Jurgis begins to notice that Ona is having hysterical fits of crying. Jurgis finds out that Ona is upset because she has been sexually harassed and raped by her boss, Connor. Jurgis goes straight out and attempts to strangle Connor. Jurgis gets thirty days in jail for assault. Jurgis meets Jack Duane, the gentleman safe-cracker. Duane gives Jurgis his address so that they can stay in touch. Jurgis leaves prison to find Ona in premature labor with their second child. Both Ona and the baby die. His family members have also lost the house for which they sacrificed so much. They missed one monthly payment and were evicted. Jurgis tries to stay sober and employed for the sake of his young son, Baby Antanas. Baby Antanas runs out into the street one day and drowns in a pothole. Jurgis leaves Packingtown to become a hobo for the summer. Jurgis eventually returns to Chicago once winter comes and there is no more farm work. He gets thrown into jail a second time for assault, this time on a bartender who stole money from him. Jurgis meets Jack Duane again. Jurgis has given up all hope of a better life. He becomes a criminal once he is released from jail. Jurgis and Jack Duane start mugging people. Jurgis works for crooked millionaire Mike Scully to rig the next municipal election. Once the stockyard unions go on strike, Jurgis keeps working and becomes a factory foreman. Jurgis has managed to put aside three hundred bucks in savings thanks to all of his unethical activity. Jurgis happens to walk by Connor one day and attacks him once more. Jurgis manages to get away on bail, but it costs him all of his savings to do it. Jurgis is reduced to begging yet again. Jurgis meets Marija once more. She has become a prostitute, and the rest of the family is living off her profits. One night, Jurgis stumbles in to a Socialist Party meeting that is free to the public. Jurgis becomes an ardent socialist. Jurgis gets a job as a night porter at a hotel run by socialist Tommy Hinds. Jurgis tries to convince Marija to leave the brothel and join him in socialism, but she has lost all hope for the future. Jurgis believes that he can improve the lives of all working men by helping the socialist cause.