Study Guide

Kristoforas Lukoszaite in The Jungle

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Kristoforas Lukoszaite

Kristoforas is Teta Elzbieta's youngest child. He is about three years old when he dies from a sudden sickness that he catches from the drafts of their awful little house. Upton Sinclair's description of little Kristoforas is ugly by today's standards. Kristoforas is born disabled and cannot walk, so he is described as "a nuisance, and a source of endless trouble in the family" (13.1). While this dismissive and unsympathetic description of disability seems horrifying, it is also in keeping with Sinclair's social message about what capitalism does to people's hearts. Teta Elzbieta loves little Kristoforas because she is sentimental and traditional, but Jurgis – who is the budding capitalist of the family – often yells at the little boy when he cries or complains. In Sinclair's model of capitalist society, there is no room for pity or sympathy for other people. If we are all trying to get ahead all the time, we can't stop to worry about people weaker than ourselves.

Jurgis's total lack of interest in or pity for baby Kristoforas is another sign of Jurgis's growing cruelty as he adapts to the American way of life. Jurgis is so hardhearted at this point (Chapter 13) that he makes Teta Elzbieta beg her neighbors for money to give the child a proper Lithuanian-style funeral – truly disgraceful behavior on Jurgis's part.

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