"When you get through working your horses this fall, will you turn them out in the snow?" (Jurgis was beginning to think for himself nowadays.
"It ain't quite the same," the farmer answered, seeing the point. "There ought to be work a strong fellow like you can find to do, in the cities, or some place, in the winter time."
"Yes," said Jurgis, "that's what they all think; and so they crowd into the cities, and when they have to beg or steal to live, then people ask 'em why they don't go into the country, where help is scarce." The farmer meditated awhile. (22.41-43)
Much of Jurgis's plot line draws attention to problems of urban poverty and poor working conditions. Even so, Upton Sinclair doesn't want you to think that the countryside is much better when it comes to labor exploitation. Even the countryside is still dominated by the capitalist search for profit. So when Jurgis finds out that a farmer would be willing to hire him just for the summer and that, after the harvest, he would be unemployed again, Jurgis is outraged. By this stage of the novel, Jurgis is really coming to terms with the negative effects of American society on his life: the stage has been set for his socialist conversion.