Study Guide

The Jungle Chapter 31

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Chapter 31

  • After Jurgis gets his job, he goes to find Marija Berczynskas.
  • He wants to tell her that she can quit being a prostitute. Jurgis will support the family.
  • Marija says she can't. She's no good – she takes morphine, and she can't stop.
  • Back at home, Teta Elzbieta is sick often, and the kids are wild and don't obey Jurgis.
  • Still, Jurgis stands by them as best he can.
  • The night before the election, Jurgis is invited to meet a bunch of Socialist Party leaders.
  • Jurgis goes with the assistant clerk at Hinds's hotel, Harry Adams.
  • There is an editor at the gathering. This man is Mr. Maynard, and he does not approve of socialism. Yet he also doesn't really understand what it is.
  • The host of the party is Fisher, a Chicago millionaire who gave up all of his money to help improve the lives of the poor.
  • Jurgis is embarrassed once he arrives, because he doesn't know how to talk to such educated people.
  • Mr. Lucas is a preacher and evangelist, and Nicholas Schliemann is a former philosophy professor and nutritionist.
  • Schliemann is originally from Switzerland. He has his own system for living under capitalism: he earns money working the fields over the summer and uses that money to buy a precise, scientific amount of food to keep him going the rest of the year.
  • Jurgis walks in on an argument between Lucas and Schliemann on the value of religion to the socialist cause.
  • Lucas believes wholeheartedly in using the Bible to preach about the redistribution of wealth.
  • He points out that Jesus stood against the pride, greed, and luxury that wealth brings.
  • Was it not Jesus who said, in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of Heaven" (31.16)?
  • Lucas keeps going on and on about Jesus as the first truly class-conscious man.
  • Schliemann asks how they can feel free to use the Bible to preach this message when, right now, Christian bishops are accumulating huge wealth on the backs of the working man.
  • Mr. Maynard, the east cost magazine editor, asks how it can be that two socialists disagree so actively about what direction to take the party?
  • Lucas believes that socialism is a tool to creating a new promised land on Earth, New Jerusalem.
  • Schliemann wants to see the centralization of all factories and private property, along with absolute freedom in thought and artistic production.
  • Schliemann thinks this would lead to the natural development of communities based on like-minded people who choose to live and associate with one another.
  • They would have so much more leisure time if they didn't have to compete with one another for work and there would be real time to devote to art and writing.
  • Mr. Maynard wants to know how a society could possibly get by while demanding so little work from its members.
  • Schliemann points out that capitalism wastes a lot of work on competition and strife between companies. If there was no concern about improving your standard of living, if everyone had enough to get by all right, the average worker would be much less stressed out and overwhelmed.
  • After all, look how much each company spends on advertising! Without competition, there would be no need for marketing or for lying about the value of goods.
  • Under this system, prices could be a lot lower because there would be no profit attached – a book would cost as much as necessary to cover production and no more.
  • Schliemann doesn't mean that everyone will get exactly the same things – some people will work harder than others, and some will work less. Thus, some will get more than others.
  • Still, everyone will be rewarded according to his efforts, and no one will be left behind.
  • After the revolution, all of the social ills of ignorance, malnourishment of children, prostitution, and homelessness will be totally eliminated.
  • Once labor is no longer figured into the cost of production, people won't have an incentive to do unpleasant work.
  • In other words, let's say you were looking at two jobs, and one involved slaughtering cows and one involved growing vegetables.
  • You would probably pick the second one unless there you got paid a lot more for the first one. But if all labor costs exactly the same thing – if you are paid according to how much you work, no matter what you are making – then there would be no reason ever to pursue a job you really, truly hated.
  • This is why Schliemann feels that socialism will mean the end to unsafe labor practices: because factories will have to attract people to work for them.
  • The power will all be on the side of the worker, not the factory owner.
  • Schliemann predicts that this shift of power will also mean the end to the meatpacking industry as a whole. No one is going to choose to be surrounded by many, many slaughtered animals.
  • In Schliemann's vision of a future world, we'll all be vegetarians.
  • Jurgis overhears two women comment that Schliemann's speech must have converted Mr. Maynard to their cause.
  • If not, then they'll know Mr. Maynard is a fool.
  • The next day is Election Day.
  • Jurgis hurries to a Socialist Party gathering to hear the results.
  • The returns show that, across the board, there are more and more people turning out to vote for a socialist ticket.
  • No city in the country is more actively socialist than Chicago.
  • A speaker addresses the crowd: they must continue to organize! This is their opportunity! They must keep up their momentum! Chicago will be socialist!

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