by Upton Sinclair

  • Year Published: 1906
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Source: Sinclair, Upton. (1906). The Jungle . New York: Doubleday, Jabber, and Co.
  • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 8.8
  • Word Count: 3,221
  • Genre: Realism
  • Keywords: social injustice
  • ✎ Cite This
  • Passage PDF

Sinclair, U. (1906). Chapter 14. The Jungle (Lit2Go Edition). Retrieved May 10, 2024, from

Sinclair, Upton. "Chapter 14." The Jungle . Lit2Go Edition. 1906. Web. >. May 10, 2024.

Upton Sinclair, "Chapter 14," The Jungle , Lit2Go Edition, (1906), accessed May 10, 2024, .

With one member trimming beef in a cannery, and another working in a sausage factory, the family had a first-hand knowledge of the great majority of Packingtown swindles. For it was the custom, as they found, whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage. With what had been told them by Jonas, who had worked in the pickle rooms, they could now study the whole of the spoiled-meat industry on the inside, and read a new and grim meaning into that old Packingtown jest—that they use everything of the pig except the squeal.

Jonas had told them how the meat that was taken out of pickle would often be found sour, and how they would rub it up with soda to take away the smell, and sell it to be eaten on free-lunch counters; also of all the miracles of chemistry which they performed, giving to any sort of meat, fresh or salted, whole or chopped, any color and any flavor and any odor they chose. In the pickling of hams they had an ingenious apparatus, by which they saved time and increased the capacity of the plant—a machine consisting of a hollow needle attached to a pump; by plunging this needle into the meat and working with his foot, a man could fill a ham with pickle in a few seconds. And yet, in spite of this, there would be hams found spoiled, some of them with an odor so bad that a man could hardly bear to be in the room with them. To pump into these the packers had a second and much stronger pickle which destroyed the odor—a process known to the workers as “giving them thirty per cent.” Also, after the hams had been smoked, there would be found some that had gone to the bad. Formerly these had been sold as “Number Three Grade,” but later on some ingenious person had hit upon a new device, and now they would extract the bone, about which the bad part generally lay, and insert in the hole a white-hot iron. After this invention there was no longer Number One, Two, and Three Grade—there was only Number One Grade. The packers were always originating such schemes—they had what they called “boneless hams,” which were all the odds and ends of pork stuffed into casings; and “California hams,” which were the shoulders, with big knuckle joints, and nearly all the meat cut out; and fancy “skinned hams,” which were made of the oldest hogs, whose skins were so heavy and coarse that no one would buy them—that is, until they had been cooked and chopped fine and labeled “head cheese!”

It was only when the whole ham was spoiled that it came into the department of Elzbieta. Cut up by the two-thousand-revolutions-a-minute flyers, and mixed with half a ton of other meat, no odor that ever was in a ham could make any difference. There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white—it would be dosed with borax and glycerine, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption. There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water—and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast. Some of it they would make into “smoked” sausage—but as the smoking took time, and was therefore expensive, they would call upon their chemistry department, and preserve it with borax and color it with gelatine to make it brown. All of their sausage came out of the same bowl, but when they came to wrap it they would stamp some of it “special,” and for this they would charge two cents more a pound.

Such were the new surroundings in which Elzbieta was placed, and such was the work she was compelled to do. It was stupefying, brutalizing work; it left her no time to think, no strength for anything. She was part of the machine she tended, and every faculty that was not needed for the machine was doomed to be crushed out of existence. There was only one mercy about the cruel grind—that it gave her the gift of insensibility. Little by little she sank into a torpor—she fell silent. She would meet Jurgis and Ona in the evening, and the three would walk home together, often without saying a word. Ona, too, was falling into a habit of silence—Ona, who had once gone about singing like a bird. She was sick and miserable, and often she would barely have strength enough to drag herself home. And there they would eat what they had to eat, and afterward, because there was only their misery to talk of, they would crawl into bed and fall into a stupor and never stir until it was time to get up again, and dress by candlelight, and go back to the machines. They were so numbed that they did not even suffer much from hunger, now; only the children continued to fret when the food ran short.

Yet the soul of Ona was not dead—the souls of none of them were dead, but only sleeping; and now and then they would waken, and these were cruel times. The gates of memory would roll open—old joys would stretch out their arms to them, old hopes and dreams would call to them, and they would stir beneath the burden that lay upon them, and feel its forever immeasurable weight. They could not even cry out beneath it; but anguish would seize them, more dreadful than the agony of death. It was a thing scarcely to be spoken—a thing never spoken by all the world, that will not know its own defeat.

They were beaten; they had lost the game, they were swept aside. It was not less tragic because it was so sordid, because it had to do with wages and grocery bills and rents. They had dreamed of freedom; of a chance to look about them and learn something; to be decent and clean, to see their child grow up to be strong. And now it was all gone—it would never be! They had played the game and they had lost. Six years more of toil they had to face before they could expect the least respite, the cessation of the payments upon the house; and how cruelly certain it was that they could never stand six years of such a life as they were living! They were lost, they were going down—and there was no deliverance for them, no hope; for all the help it gave them the vast city in which they lived might have been an ocean waste, a wilderness, a desert, a tomb. So often this mood would come to Ona, in the nighttime, when something wakened her; she would lie, afraid of the beating of her own heart, fronting the blood-red eyes of the old primeval terror of life. Once she cried aloud, and woke Jurgis, who was tired and cross. After that she learned to weep silently—their moods so seldom came together now! It was as if their hopes were buried in separate graves.

Jurgis, being a man, had troubles of his own. There was another specter following him. He had never spoken of it, nor would he allow any one else to speak of it—he had never acknowledged its existence to himself. Yet the battle with it took all the manhood that he had—and once or twice, alas, a little more. Jurgis had discovered drink.

He was working in the steaming pit of hell; day after day, week after week—until now, there was not an organ of his body that did its work without pain, until the sound of ocean breakers echoed in his head day and night, and the buildings swayed and danced before him as he went down the street. And from all the unending horror of this there was a respite, a deliverance—he could drink! He could forget the pain, he could slip off the burden; he would see clearly again, he would be master of his brain, of his thoughts, of his will. His dead self would stir in him, and he would find himself laughing and cracking jokes with his companions—he would be a man again, and master of his life.

It was not an easy thing for Jurgis to take more than two or three drinks. With the first drink he could eat a meal, and he could persuade himself that that was economy; with the second he could eat another meal—but there would come a time when he could eat no more, and then to pay for a drink was an unthinkable extravagance, a defiance of the agelong instincts of his hunger-haunted class. One day, however, he took the plunge, and drank up all that he had in his pockets, and went home half “piped,” as the men phrase it. He was happier than he had been in a year; and yet, because he knew that the happiness would not last, he was savage, too with those who would wreck it, and with the world, and with his life; and then again, beneath this, he was sick with the shame of himself. Afterward, when he saw the despair of his family, and reckoned up the money he had spent, the tears came into his eyes, and he began the long battle with the specter.

It was a battle that had no end, that never could have one. But Jurgis did not realize that very clearly; he was not given much time for reflection. He simply knew that he was always fighting. Steeped in misery and despair as he was, merely to walk down the street was to be put upon the rack. There was surely a saloon on the corner—perhaps on all four corners, and some in the middle of the block as well; and each one stretched out a hand to him each one had a personality of its own, allurements unlike any other. Going and coming—before sunrise and after dark—there was warmth and a glow of light, and the steam of hot food,and perhaps music, or a friendly face, and a word of good cheer. Jurgis developed a fondness for having Ona on his arm whenever he went out on the street, and he would hold her tightly, and walk fast. It was pitiful to have Ona know of this—it drove him wild to think of it; the thing was not fair, for Ona had never tasted drink, and so could not understand. Sometimes, in despeate hours, he would find himself wishing that she might learn what it was, so that he need not be ashamed in her presence. They might drink together, and escape from the horror—escape for a while, come what would.

So there came a time when nearly all the conscious life of Jurgis consisted of a struggle with the craving for liquor. He would have ugly moods, when he hated Ona and the whole family, because they stood in his way. He was a fool to have married; he had tied himself down, had made himself a slave. It was all because he was a married man that he was compelled to stay in the yards; if it had not been for that he might have gone off like Jonas, and to hell with the packers. There were few single men in the fertilizer mill—and those few were working only for a chance to escape. Meantime, too, they had something to think about while they worked,—they had the memory of the last time they had been drunk, and the hope of the time when they would be drunk again. As for Jurgis, he was expected to bring home every penny; he could not even go with the men at noontime—he was supposed to sit down and eat his dinner on a pile of fertilizer dust.

This was not always his mood, of course; he still loved his family. But just now was a time of trial. Poor little Antanas, for instance—who had never failed to win him with a smile—little Antanas was not smiling just now, being a mass of fiery red pimples. He had had all the diseases that babies are heir to, in quick succession, scarlet fever, mumps, and whooping cough in the first year, and now he was down with the measles. There was no one to attend him but Kotrina; there was no doctor to help him, because they were too poor, and children did not die of the measles—at least not often. Now and then Kotrina would find time to sob over his woes, but for the greater part of the time he had to be left alone, barricaded upon the bed. The floor was full of drafts, and if he caught cold he would die. At night he was tied down, lest he should kick the covers off him, while the family lay in their stupor of exhaustion. He would lie and scream for hours, almost in convulsions; and then, when he was worn out, he would lie whimpering and wailing in his torment. He was burning up with fever, and his eyes were running sores; in the daytime he was a thing uncanny and impish to behold, a plaster of pimples and sweat, a great purple lump of misery.

Yet all this was not really as cruel as it sounds, for, sick as he was, little Antanas was the least unfortunate member of that family. He was quite able to bear his sufferings—it was as if he had all these complaints to show what a prodigy of health he was. He was the child of his parents’ youth and joy; he grew up like the conjurer’s rosebush, and all the world was his oyster. In general, he toddled around the kitchen all day with a lean and hungry look—the portion of the family’s allowance that fell to him was not enough, and he was unrestrainable in his demand for more. Antanas was but little over a year old, and already no one but his father could manage him.

It seemed as if he had taken all of his mother’s strength—had left nothing for those that might come after him. Ona was with child again now, and it was a dreadful thing to contemplate; even Jurgis, dumb and despairing as he was, could not but understand that yet other agonies were on the way, and shudder at the thought of them.

For Ona was visibly going to pieces. In the first place she was developing a cough, like the one that had killed old Dede Antanas. She had had a trace of it ever since that fatal morning when the greedy streetcar corporation had turned her out into the rain; but now it was beginning to grow serious, and to wake her up at night. Even worse than that was the fearful nervousness from which she suffered; she would have frightful headaches and fits of aimless weeping; and sometimes she would come home at night shuddering and moaning, and would fling herself down upon the bed and burst into tears. Several times she was quite beside herself and hysterical; and then Jurgis would go half-mad with fright. Elzbieta would explain to him that it could not be helped, that a woman was subject to such things when she was pregnant; but he was hardly to be persuaded, and would beg and plead to know what had happened. She had never been like this before, he would argue—it was monstrous and unthinkable. It was the life she had to live, the accursed work she had to do, that was killing her by inches. She was not fitted for it—no woman was fitted for it, no woman ought to be allowed to do such work; if the world could not keep them alive any other way it ought to kill them at once and be done with it. They ought not to marry, to have children; no workingman ought to marry—if he, Jurgis, had known what a woman was like, he would have had his eyes torn out first. So he would carry on, becoming half hysterical himself, which was an unbearable thing to see in a big man; Ona would pull herself together and fling herself into his arms, begging him to stop, to be still, that she would be better, it would be all right. So she would lie and sob out her grief upon his shoulder, while he gazed at her, as helpless as a wounded animal, the target of unseen enemies.

by Upton Sinclair

The jungle summary and analysis of chapters 14-16.

With two family members working in the cannery and the sausage making plant, the family sees all of the tricks that the packing industry uses to sell meat. The industry is especially good at manipulating spoiled meat so that it does not smell or look spoiled so that it can be sold. They pump meat full of pickling chemicals to rid it of its smells. They remove the bone from a ham, along with its rotted meat, and replace it with a hot piece of iron. They stop labeling meat as One, Two, or Three Grade and instead label it all as One Grade. They use “everything of the pig except the squeal,” and they find new ways to market and sell each part. Teta Elzbieta’s factory is especially bad. Rats are a problem in the storage sheds, and the men that work there put out poison bread. When the rats die, they often end up in the piles of meat. There are other things that go into the sausage as well, too horrible to name. Every few months, men are hired to clean out the waste barrels of spoiled meat, trash, rusty nails, and other things. It is “taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast.”

Soon, Elzbieta sinks into torpor. She and Ona become silent most of the time, too tired to speak. They are both sick and miserable from their work. They are “so numbed that they [do] not even suffer much from hunger.” Often, they remember what life had been like before, and their souls cry out in agony. They had dreamed of freedom in America, but now they cannot even see their child grow up to be strong. Ona sometimes cries about it at night, but Jurgis is tired and cross. She learns to weep silently.

Jurgis becomes addicted to alcohol. He struggles with wanting to drink although he knows that he must bring every penny he can home with him. He has a drink with his meals, sometimes, and it makes him happy and allows him to loosen some of his burden. When he drinks, “his dead self would stir in him, and he would find himself laughing and cracking jokes with his companions - he would be a man again, and master of his life.” He grows to resent his married life and his family, for they keep him from being able to drink more. He wishes that Ona would drink so that they could “escape from the horror.” Soon, “nearly all the conscious life of Jurgis consisted of a struggle with the craving for liquor.”

Little Antanas is the least unfortunate member of the family. He is able to bear his sufferings and is healthy. He has so much strength and energy that his mother cannot handle him and cannot give him enough food. Only Jurgis can calm the child. Antanas soon gets sick with the measles and his crying and wailing are terrible. The family, however, is too tired to care for him, and since children do not often die of the measles, they simply let him cry until his disease passes. Ona’s work is slowly killing her, and Jurgis thinks to himself that workingmen should not marry and have families because their women become too hysterical to manage.

Ona continues to go through great crisis, which leaves her eyes looking “like the eyes of a hunted animal.” Jurgis does not give any more considerable worry to Ona’s situation, simply living “like a dumb beast of burden, knowing only the moment in which he was.” In the late fall, the packinghouses become very busy in preparing meat for the Christmastime season. All the workers work long shifts in order to keep their places and add some small sum to their income. All of the members of the family start work at seven in the morning, get a short break for lunch at noon, and then work until ten or eleven at night without another break or bite to eat. They arrive home at night too tired even to take off their clothes to sleep.

One morning, a few days before Thanksgiving, Marija wakes Jurgis with a fright. Ona did not come home the evening before. There was a snowstorm, and everyone is worried that Ona is freezing outside in the cold. Jurgis goes to the yards and finds Ona’s part of the factory. He is told that she turned in her time card the night before and left. Fifteen minutes after seven, Jurgis finally sees Ona arriving for work. He rushes out to meet her, glad to see her alive but anxious to find out what had happened. She tells him that she had to go home with her friend Jadvyga the night before because she had been so tired. She was afraid because she knew he would worry. Jurgis is happy that Ona is okay, and he leaves her to her work and goes to the fertilizer factory.

A month passes and, a few days before Christmas, Teta Elzbieta and Marija arrive home at midnight with the shocking news that Ona is once again missing. They worry that it could be serious this time. Jurgis tells the worried women that she is fine and probably staying at Jadvyga’s house. He goes back to sleep. The next morning, however, he wakes early and goes to Jadvyga’s house to check on Ona. The family there tells him that Ona is not there, nor had she ever stayed with them. Jurgis cannot believe this news or the fact that his wife had willfully deceived him. He goes to the factory and finds one of Ona’s floor bosses. The man says that there must have been a mix-up with the cars and that maybe she had gone downtown. Jurgis is sure this is not the case and he notices some sly glances between the workers.

Jurgis walks down Ashland Avenue towards his house when he thinks that he spots Ona’s “rusty black hat with the drooping red flower” on one of the streetcars. He runs alongside it and watches as Ona exits the car and makes her way into their house. When Jurgis enters, Elzbieta tells him to be quiet because Ona is sleeping. She tells him that Ona was lost the night before and had only come home that morning. Jurgis knows that Elzbieta is lying to him and he opens the door and goes in to confront Ona.

When Ona starts to explain what happened, Jurgis stops her and tells her that he knows she is lying. She tries to grab onto him, but he moves and lets her fall to the floor, where she goes into a sobbing fit of anguish, shaking and coughing. She yells out, her voice rising into “screams, louder and louder until it broke in wild, horrible peals of laughter.” Jurgis yells at her to stop and answer him. She begs him to believe her and have faith that she is doing the right thing for the family.

She tells him that she has been downtown at one of the brothels. Her floor boss, Connor, had taken her there telling her that if she did not go he would ruin her and her family and make sure they never worked again. Mrs. Henderson hates her, so they devised a plot. Connor offered her money. He begged her, threatened her, and told her that he loved her. Finally, he told her that she had to come and took hold of her one night in the factory and raped her. Then he began making her come to the brothel.

Jurgis becomes furious and walks out of the house. He runs to the street and catches a streetcar. He stands on its platform, “waiting, waiting, crouching as if for a spring.” When he arrives at the factory, he finds Connor loading packages onto a truck. He jumps on him and begins to beat the man. He bites his cheek, tearing part of it off. He smashes Connor’s head against the floor. A whole team of men comes and pries Jurgis off Connor. They take him to the company police station until a patrol wagon comes to take him away.

Jurgis goes to prison. He is kicked by a policeman on his way to his cell but is not surprised at this. He knows that the police in Packingtown can be brutal. When he arrives in the holding cell, he sits down “like a wild beast that has glutted itself; he was in a dull stupor of satisfaction” because he had beaten Connor so well. That feeling of satisfaction soon leaves, however, and he is confronted with the reality of his situation. He remembers Ona and his family and now realizes their situation.

That night, Jurgis is overcome with the memories of his past. He stretches out his arms “to heaven, crying out for deliverance from it,” but deliverance does not come. He curses himself for letting Ona work in such a place, even though he had heard the stories and knew the realities of such places for women like her. He knows that even though she might forgive him, she “would never look him in the face again, she would never be his wife again” because of the shame she now feels over the incident. Jurgis toils in his mind over the poverty that his family now faces. He wonders if they will be evicted, thrown out in the streets to die. He thinks only of the worst possibilities.

Jurgis is picked up in the morning by a police wagon and driven to a makeshift courtroom. Jurgis goes before Justice Callahan, one of the bosses of Packingtown’s political machine. The Justice gives him a $300 bond, but since Jurgis has no way to pay it, he is led away by the police. He is made to take a bath and taken to a cell with two bunks, each one infested with fleas and rodents. At night, Jurgis paces up and down “like a wild beast that breaks its teeth upon the bars of its cage.” He sometimes flings himself against the walls and beats them with his fists.

At midnight, there is a loud outburst of bells from the town’s church steeples. Jurgis remembers that it is Christmas Eve. He flashes back in his mind to Lithuania and to times of celebration. Jurgis realizes that even in Packingtown they had not forgotten the vision of the Christ child and that “some gleam of it had never failed to break their darkness.” He remembers all of the shoddy, yet happy Christmases that the family had shared in Packingtown. However, Jurgis’s thoughts soon turn to despair once again. He realizes that the Christmas bells are not ringing for him. “He was of no consequence -- he was flung aside, like a bit of trash, the carcass of some animal.” A fury is awakened in Jurgis. He understands now that justice is a lie and that all of society was “tyranny, the will and the power, reckless and unrestrained!” They treat him and his family worse than they treat the animals at the packinghouses. In these midnight hours, Jurgis feels “the beginning of his rebellion, of his outlawry and his unbelief.” He declares all of society his enemy. The chapter ends with a poem: “The vilest deeds, like poison weeds, / Bloom well in prison air; / It is only what is good in Man / That wastes and withers there.”

Although The Jungle was one of the most popular books of the early twentieth century, it did not necessarily bring about the kind of change that Sinclair hoped to persuade people was needed in American politics. Sinclair wrote the novel as a diatribe on the evils of capitalism. He argues through the story of Jurgis and his family that socialist economic policies will help cure the ills of American society.

It was such scenes as is found in Chapter Fourteen, however, that actually captured the American public’s imagination. The horrifying descriptions of the meat packing process created a public outrage and President Theodore Roosevelt, as well as Congress and other elected officials, were forced into passing sweeping reforms of the American food industry. These reforms, however, did not specifically address the themes that Sinclair brings to light in the novel, that of unjust working and social conditions.

Jurgis’s drinking problem becomes a commentary on the breaking apart of traditional family roles. While saloon life and alcohol consumption are secondary topics of criticism in The Jungle , they do offer a brief glimpse at what Sinclair saw as a motivating factor in destabilizing family life and human relations. Saloons of this period played important roles of political and economic function. They were masculine spaces and, as is exemplified by Jurgis’s experience, often became second homes for men. In this way, traditional patriarchal family life loses its sense of purpose and is another victim to mechanisms of Social Darwinism. Family life becomes a burden; men seek to become lost in their own individual suffering.

In Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen, Sinclair uses language that exemplifies the meaning of the book’s title. In the novel, the idea of “jungle” means several different things. In this chapter, the reader begins to see that one meaning is the issue of the devolving of characters. In several instances, Sinclair gives Ona and Jurgis animalistic traits. Ona is like a hunted animal. Jurgis, when going to attack the foreman that has raped Ona, acts like a tiger, and when he is imprisoned, he acts like an animal in a cage. The social atmosphere of Packingtown has created characters that now know they must kill or be killed. In this way, the “jungle” is society framed in the terms of natural selection.

The Christmas Eve scene that takes place while Jurgis is in prison is one of several “awakening” scenes in the novel. This first awakening is a kind of spiritual awakening. Christmas Eve is symbolic of Jurgis’s transformation. Just as the birth of the Christ child is a symbol in Christianity of the promise of mankind’s salvation, this scene in prison acts a kind of promise for Jurgis’s future salvation. Jurgis does not yet have the intellectual tools to address his situation -- that will be a future awakening -- but this scene allows him to gain an understanding of the way the particular injustices of society work to repress him and his fellow workingmen.

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The Jungle Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Jungle is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

What loaded language does the author use throughout the passge

What passage are you referring to?

In Chapter One, a crisis occurs when the family cannot raise the money needed to pay for the wedding. This results in increased hardships and a darker mood for the family with Jurgis’s promise to “work harder.”

where does Jurgis begin his sentence? why does he remain alone?

Jurgis is sent to Bridewell Prison. He wants to get out in ten days so he tries to stay out of trouble.

Study Guide for The Jungle

The Jungle study guide contains a biography of Upton Sinclair, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About The Jungle
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Essays for The Jungle

The Jungle essays are academic essays for citation. These literature papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

  • "The Jungle: Fiction, History, or Both?"
  • Upton Sinclair's Indictment of Wage Slavery in The Jungle
  • Preying on the Immigrant Experience: Sinclair's The Jungle
  • The (Literal) Jungle: Symbolism and Meaning in Sinclair's Narrative
  • Muckrakers: Differing Styles in Upton Sinclair and Eric Schlosser

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E-Text of The Jungle

The Jungle e-text contains the full text of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

  • Chapters 1-5
  • Chapters 6-10
  • Chapters 11-15
  • Chapters 16-20
  • Chapters 21-25

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chapter 14 from the jungle essay

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Discuss the role that social Darwinist thought plays in The Jungle. In what ways does Sinclair agree with traditional social Darwinists (e.g. Herbert Spencer), and in what ways does he disagree?

What role do Sinclair’s graphic descriptions of spoiled and contaminated meat play in the novel? How do these descriptions relate to other, more symbolic forms of corruption or adulteration?

How does Sinclair depict organized labor in The Jungle ? What does he ultimately argue regarding its ability to address the problems associated with capitalism? Do you agree?

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chapter 14 from the jungle essay

Upton Sinclair

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Sinclair employs scent imagery to evoke pathos and highlight Jurgis's pitiful state after he has fled the scene of his wife's dangerous childbirth. As he sits in a saloon relishing its warmth, the narrator tells the reader that:

It was too good to last, however—like all things in this hard world. His soaked clothing began to steam, and the horrible stench of fertilizer to fill the room. In an hour or so the packing houses would be closing and the men coming in from their work; and they would not come into a place that smelt of Jurgis. Cite this Quote

Jurgis is sitting in a bar waiting to hear the news of Ona's dangerous labor from Madame Haupt, a midwife he cannot afford. He knows he doesn’t have long until he’s kicked out into the cold, since he has no money to keep buying drinks. This anxiety is made worse by the fact that he knows he stinks. His entire body is soaked in particles of fertilizer from the factory, and they give off a horrifying odor. Even among the laborers of Packingtown, who all endure horrible conditions, working as a fertilizer man is considered an unbearable job.

By emphasizing the stench of fertilizer and its widespread effect on the room, Sinclair creates a vivid image of Jurgis's deplorable physical condition. The narrator suggests that the stench repels even his fellow workers, who might refuse to enter a place “that smelt of Jurgis.” Notice here that the narrator says “Jurgis” and not “fertilizer,” implying that it is the man himself who produces the stench, not the manure he’s coated in. The foul odor is just one aspect of his degradation and isolation. Jurgis has hit rock bottom and has nowhere to go. This portrayal—of a stinking, lonely, desperate man—elicits sympathy from the reader, invoking their sense of pathos. Rather than feeling disgusted by Jurgis, Sinclair asks the reader to consider the pitiful circumstances he faces in a world of hardship and indifference.

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  1. The Jungle Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

    She, Jurgis, and Ona regularly trudge home in silence, fall straight asleep, and return to their work early the next morning. In their less numb moments, the family members are overcome with hopelessness and anxiety about their debts: "They were beaten; they had lost the game, they were swept aside." Work has stripped the family of their most ...

  2. The Jungle Chapters 14-17 Summary & Analysis

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  3. Chapter 14

    Jurgis turns to alcohol to deal with his frustrations and sense of defeat. He does not succumb to the temptation all at once, but rather he gradually submits to its false promises of escape. While Jurgis starts to drink, Ona's deterioration accelerates. She has fits of hysteria and nervousness that Jurgis cannot understand and Elzbieta cannot ...

  4. PDF Essay Exemplar for "Chapter 14

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  5. Chapter 14

    She would meet Jurgis and Ona in the evening, and the three would walk home together, often without saying a word. Ona, too, was falling into a habit of silence—Ona, who had once gone about singing like a bird. She was sick and miserable, and often she would barely have strength enough to drag herself home.

  6. The Jungle Chapters 14-16 Summary and Analysis

    The Jungle Summary and Analysis of Chapters 14-16. Summary. Chapter 14. With two family members working in the cannery and the sausage making plant, the family sees all of the tricks that the packing industry uses to sell meat. The industry is especially good at manipulating spoiled meat so that it does not smell or look spoiled so that it can ...

  7. The Jungle Chapter 14 Summary

    Essays and Criticism The Jungle, Upton Sinclair Teaching Guide Ideas for Reports and Papers ... "The Jungle - Chapter 14 Summary."

  8. The Jungle Chapter 14 Summary

    The narrator foreshadows an end to misery, however, when he says "Yet the soul of Ona was not dead—the souls of none of them were dead, but only sleeping." In the context of Chapter 14, their souls' awakening is a painful experience; later, however, Jurgis's soul will be stirred by the message of socialism. Chapter 13 Chapter 15.

  9. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

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  10. The Jungle Analysis

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  12. The Jungle: Suggested Essay Topics

    Suggestions for essay topics to use when you're writing about The Jungle. Search all of SparkNotes Search. Suggestions. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. A Tale of Two Cities ... Chapters 14-17 Chapters 18-21 Chapters 22-24 ...

  13. Lesson 14: Summarizing a Literary Text

    Have students read "Chapter 14" of The Jungle independently or use the audio recording. While students are reading, review the partially completed speech outline handouts for accuracy and progress. Write specific feedback for each student directly on the handout. Return the speech outlines to the students at the close of this lesson. An ...

  14. The Jungle: Chapter 14

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  16. The Jungle: Sample A+ Essay

    The novel sabotages Sinclair's second intention by forcing readers to see, smell, and taste the environment of the meatpacking industry while simultaneously preventing them from sympathizing with the workers who endure its inhumane conditions. Though The Jungle is a work of fiction, Sinclair's use of highly evocative details and imagery ...

  17. What are some examples of figurative language in The Jungle, chapter 14

    What are some examples of figurative language in The Jungle, chapter 14? Sinclair uses imagery, which is description using any of the five senses, to great effect to describe the nauseating filth ...

  18. The Jungle Essay Topics

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

  19. Chapter 14

    Chapter 14. Classic Literature VideoBook with synchronized text, interactive transcript, and closed captions in multiple languages. Audio courtesy of Librivo...

  20. Critical Essays Sinclair's The Jungle from a Contemporary Critical

    The aesthetics of a novel include the way an author uses elements of style, such as imagery, irony, and paradox, to enhance characters, plot, and theme. From this perspective, The Jungle is not considered quality literature. New Critics argue that Sinclair uses the form of the novel to promote his political agenda at the expense of his art.

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  22. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair: Chapter 14

    Chapter 14. With one member trimming beef in a cannery, and another working in a sausage factory, the family had a first-hand knowledge of the great majority of Packingtown swindles. For it was the custom, as they found, whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage.

  23. The Jungle Literary Devices

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