Study Guide

The Jungle Chapter 11

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Chapter 11

  • Work picks up for Jurgis in the summer, but he's not making as much money because the factories have hired even more cheap labor.
  • This increase in the number of employees doesn't make the work any easier. Instead, the packing company seems to be insisting on faster and faster paces of work.
  • The canning company Marija used to work at has sped up the pace of the work so often that her friends are really struggling.
  • The day that canning company announced a 50% reduction in pay across the board, all of the working girls marched straight outside and protested.
  • The strike fell apart quickly when the canning company brought in new workers, so it didn't bring about any real change.
  • Jurgis and Ona both worry that this will happen to them, too. They have realized that, what one company does in Packingtown, all companies will eventually do in Packingtown.
  • Marija is the only one who doesn't worry. Jurgis and Ona have paid her back what she loaned them from her savings when they first arrived in the States.
  • Marija decides to put this money in a bank account.
  • She and Tamoszius start planning again.
  • Marija does worry that something will happen at the bank to destroy her cash.
  • One morning, as she walks to work, she sees a big crowd of people in front of the bank.
  • They are all people with deposits in the bank, and they are worried (though no one knows quite why) that there is some problem, and that they won't be able to get their cash.
  • So, they are all waiting until the bank opens to withdraw all of their funds. (This is called a "run on the bank," and fans of Mary Poppins will know that it is a very serious thing indeed.)
  • (It turns out that the original cause of this run on the bank is that the police were arresting a drunk dude in front of it while many of the depositors were on their way to the work, so they somehow thought that the bank itself was falling apart.)
  • Marija waits for two days in bad weather, accompanied by Teta Elzbieta, so that she can withdraw all of her money.
  • Finally, Marija walks out with her savings.
  • She sews her money into the lining of her dress until she can find a new bank to invest it in.
  • Jurgis and Ona also have enough money to start a bank account.
  • As long as their wages keep coming in steadily, they are fine.
  • Jurgis also has the opportunity to sell his vote once again, so that's a little cash for the coffers. (Sadly, as a woman, Ona wouldn't be able to cast her vote until 1919.)
  • Winter is coming again (that was fast) and Jurgis is worried for Ona.
  • He is concerned that she will not be able to stand the cold.
  • So Jurgis has to accompany both Ona and little Stanislovas to work, carrying them through the snowdrifts.
  • It's during this snowy winter season that disaster strikes (yet again).
  • Occasionally at the factory, a steer will break lose from the chain holding it upside down. In a panic, it will rush around and generally be a danger to the laborers on the killing floor.
  • This happens one day to Jurgis. He jumps out of the way without realizing that he has bent his ankle in the wrong direction.
  • The pain in his ankle grows steadily throughout the day, until he faints from the pain.
  • A company doctor comes to examine Jurgis and tells him that he should go home and rest up.
  • The doctor warns Jurgis that he will probably have to stay off that foot for months to heal it.
  • Jurgis is terrified. He limps home, and Teta Elzbieta wraps the foot and puts him to bed.
  • After Jurgis sleeps, they talk over what they are going to do. Jurgis only has $60 saved, and the off-season for the slaughterhouses is coming.
  • It's January, so taxes are coming up; there is also the monthly cost for coal until the weather warms up.
  • Ona and Stanislovas both worry about who will bring them through the snow to work now.
  • As Jurgis lies in bed, he frets that his family is going to starve to death without him. For the first time, he really starts to realize that he might not be strong enough to stand between them and complete disaster.
  • So the family has no choice: they scrape and pinch and do without newer clothes that would keep them warm and new shoes without holes in them.
  • The only thing they buy is food, and the food they buy isn't very nourishing.
  • Because Jurgis is only lying in bed because his ankle hurts – it's not like his brain is sick – he spends all of his time thinking over their troubles. This makes him incredibly grumpy and difficult to be around.
  • Teta Elzbieta tries to soothe Jurgis by talking to him about the old country and bringing him the baby, Antanas.

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