by Upton Sinclair
Before things start to go south for Jurgis's family personally, they hear some ominous stories of other people's terrible experiences in the stockyards. Mary Dennis had Marija's job at the canning factory before Marija got hired. She was a single mom caring for a young, disabled son. Mary had consumption, which is a pretty dire lung disease. Her coughing grew worse and worse, so the boss finally fired her. Mary didn't get any kind of consideration or pension, even though she had been working for the factory for years and years. No one knows what happened to her or her child after she lost her job. Mary is a perfect example of one of Sinclair's main accusations against corporate business practice: these big industries will chew you up and spit you out without any consideration for your circumstances in life. Again, this novel is way before Social Security – there is no safety net for people like Mary or her son.