Study Guide

The Jungle Chapter 10

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Chapter 10

  • The family has barely managed to scrape by during the winter.
  • Marija has totally given up getting married, because the family needs her too badly.
  • She's also just about lost hope that the canning factory is going to reopen, and she has almost run through her savings.
  • So, none of them know what is going to happen in the future.
  • They keep getting slammed by unanticipated expenses for both home repair and taxes.
  • Winter ends, and they think that they are at least free from the horrible cold.
  • But every season has its own troubles: spring brings heavy rain, summer brings heat and stench from all of the blood of the slaughtered cattle – everything is filthy in Packingtown, no matter what the time of year.
  • Marija's canning factory starts up again in the late spring, but a month or two later, Marija is suddenly fired.
  • Marija believes that this is because she is a union member.
  • What is more, she makes a (legitimate) fuss over being shortchanged on her pay. Even though all of her friends tell her to drop it, she keeps bothering the management about her money.
  • Finally, her immediate supervisor tells Marija that she is fired.
  • This is a really bad time for Marija to lose her job, because Ona is just about to have a baby.
  • Jurgis is saving up money for a doctor (not a midwife; he wants someone more expert).
  • Marija spends a month looking for work.
  • Finally, she finds it: a man hires her to trim the meat of diseased cattle so that it can be reprocessed for canning.
  • Her new boss hires her because he sees how muscular Marija is. He fires the guy who had the job before and then hires Marija for about half the cost.
  • Marija has really been brought low – she would never have done this kind of hard, stinking work when she first arrived in Chicago.
  • She also keeps postponing her marriage to Tamoszius, even though they are both eager to get hitched.
  • Ona is also having work troubles.
  • Her boss hates Ona, and Ona can't figure out why.
  • Eventually, Ona hears from the other girls that Ona's boss, Miss Henderson, was once the mistress of one of the superintendents.
  • They are no longer sleeping together, but he gave Miss Henderson this job at the meatpacking plant to keep her quiet.
  • Miss Henderson has close ties to a brothel downtown, and a lot of the girls who work for her are also former prostitutes.
  • The reason Miss Henderson hates Ona is because Ona is a "decent married girl" (10.14). Miss Henderson resents Ona's purity.
  • One morning, Ona gives birth to a healthy baby boy. They name him Antanas.
  • Jurgis scarcely gets to see his baby, even though he adores him, because he absolutely has to work.
  • Ona has to work, too – in fact, she goes back to Brown's factory a week after giving birth.
  • They leave Baby Antanas in the care of Teta Elzbieta, who feeds him watered down milk from the local grocery store.
  • The two of them work even harder so that they can give Baby Antanas a better life than either of them have had.
  • Yet, in going straight back to work after giving birth, Ona has damaged her health: it's unclear what exactly she has (since they don't have the money for a doctor), but she basically never recovers from the childbirth.

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