The Jungle

Chapter 3 and 4

Who are all of the characters involved in chapter 3 and chapter 4 and what are 3 significant events that happen in these two chapters

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Gradesaver has complete summaries and analysis for each of the chapters in The Jungle. You can find the link to Chapters Two through Four in the Sources box below this answer.

Chapter 3

Jokubas Szedvilas, who is a long time resident of Packingtown, tells his new company that he will secure jobs for them through a policeman that he knows. The policeman works for Durham, and he finds suitable men for employment. Jurgis is confident that he can find employment on his own, and he goes to Brown’s, where he is immediately picked out of the line because of his size. One of the bosses asks him if he can “shovel guts,” and Jurgis, though he does not understand the English of the boss, accepts a job. The boss tells him he must show up at seven the next morning. Jurgis is ecstatic that he has found work so quickly.

To celebrate, Jokubas takes his new friends on a tour of Packingtown. For Jokubas, “the packers might own the land, but he claimed the landscape.” He takes them down to the yards where there are pens of cattle for as far as the eye can see. Jurgis feels pride in taking part in all of this because he ha just gotten a job and “become a sharer in all this activity, a cog in this marvelous machine.” Teta Elzbieta asks what becomes of all the cattle when they are bought and sold in the stockyards. Jokubas tells her that they are all weighed, loaded on trains, and taken to the slaughterhouses, where they will be killed and cut up for food. Everyone could think “only of the wonderful efficiency of it all.”

The party goes up to Durham’s, one of the meatpacking plants, and begins a tour of the factory. The tours are advertisements for the companies and the multiple products that they sell: “Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard...Durham’s Breakfast Bacon, Durham’s Canned Beef, Potted Ham, Devilled Chicken, Peerless Fertilizer!” They climb a series of stairways and see the chute where hogs come into the factory. The hogs come into a narrow room where men chain their legs, and they are lifted up by a wheel to a trolley. The hogs begin to squeal a sound that is “appalling, perilous to the ear-drums,” and many of the visitors laugh nervously at each other while some of the women have tears in their eyes. On the packing floor, men cut the throats of the hogs and throw them into vats of boiling water. “It was pork-making by machinery, pork-making by applied mathematics.”

A visitor cannot help but become philosophical about the process and think on the idea of an afterlife for hogs, and on how each hog “had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope, and a heart’s desire.” Upon watching the slaughtering, Jurgis says, “I’m glad I’m not a hog!” Once the hog is done in the boiling water, it is scooped up by a machine and put on another trolley. Two lines of men stand on each side of the trolley. Each man is responsible for a specific job: one scrapes the legs, one cuts off the head, one saws through the breastbone, and one pulls out the guts. At the end of the trolley, the hog has been gone over several times, and an incompetent and lazy government inspector either looks over or ignores it. It then goes to the splitter, the most expert workers in the factory, who cut the hog in two. It is then butchered, and each part goes to different parts of the factories to be processed and shipped out. Signs everywhere demand cleanliness from the employees, and Jokubas translates these to Jurgis in a sarcastic manner.

The visitors move to another gallery. This one views the cattle-slaughtering process. As the cattle are loaded into a pen, a man stands over them and bludgeons their heads with a large hammer. As the animals fall, they are moved to the “killing-bed,” where they are strung upside down by chains, and the butcher slices their throats, letting the blood drain to the floor. Though men attempt to sweep all the blood into holes in the floor, they cannot keep up the pace, so the men do their work while standing in half an inch of blood. The heads are taken off, and the skin is sliced off. The carcasses of beef are then butchered. No part of the animal is wasted. The parts are made into diverse products: soaps, glue, violin strings, gelatin, lard, and fertilizer. The process amazes Jurgis, and he sees that he has been “given a place in it and a share in its wonderful activities.” He does not even realize that he has been hired at Brown’s, a competing plant that is supposed to be a “deadly rival” to Durham. Jokubas tells them that Durham has handled nearly a quarter of a billion animals since its founding. All of the meat packing factories are now almost as one, “the greatest aggregation of labor and capital ever gathered in one place.”

Chapter Four

Jurgis reports to work at seven in the morning and goes to the killing floor. His job consists of sweeping away the intestines of cattle as they are gutted. It is a hot July day, and each worker wades through thick puddles of blood on the floor as they do their work. Jurgis earns seventeen and a half cents an hour and goes home that day elated to have earned over a dollar and a half. They also celebrate in their flat because Jonas has procured a job through the policeman, and Marija Berczynskas has gotten a job as a can painter which pays almost two dollars a day. Jurgis decides that both Teta Elzbieta and Ona will not get jobs and will instead stay home to care for the house. Only Dede Antanas cannot find work because of his age, although he wanders through the stockyards attempting to find a job any way that he can. The others do not have the heart to tell him that employers do not hire old men.

Upon seeing a flyer on his way to work one day, Jurgis has an idea. The flyer advertises a home for sale. Thinking that the family of twelve can pay just a bit more a month to own a home instead of rent, Jurgis makes the bold suggestion that they look into buying a home instead of renting a flat. Although the price is high for such a poor family, “they were in America, where people talked about such without fear.” Ona gives them the details of the house, which has four rooms and a basement, and they only have to put three hundred dollars down and pay twelve dollars a month. Each member of the family has a small amount of money left over from their journey to America, and pooled together they have enough for the down payment.

Ona and Teta Elzbieta make an inquiry on the house. They visit an agent who tells them that he works for a company selling these houses. The company is going out of business and is trying to sell the houses cheaply. He warns them that he has already sold so many houses that there might not be any left, but when the women become upset at this news, he makes a call and determines that there is one left. Ona figures how much each member of the family needs to contribute each month in order to cover the payment on the house. After all expenses are met, Ona determines that the family should have eighty-five dollars a month, “which ought surely to be sufficient for the support of a family of twelve.”

That Sunday, the entire family departs to see the house. They arrive and meet the agent, a “smooth and florid personage.” The house, however, is not as impressive as the advertisement, but the family does not feel as though they should question the integrity of the agent. The agent assures them there are many advantages to owning the home, but they insist that they discuss the matter before making any deals. That night, the family gathers for an extended time of arguments for and against buying the home. Jokubas Szedvilas appears and warns them against buying, telling “cruel stories of people who had been done to death in this ‘buying a home’ swindle.” When he leaves, however, Jonas convinces the rest that Szedvilas is a failed business owner and that this makes him bitter towards such deals. Finally, they decide to buy the house.

The agent gives them a time to come a sign papers, but Jurgis cannot come because of his job. He is deeply skeptical of signing any papers and warns the women to be cautious in their dealings with the agent. Szedvilas accompanies them to translate the English. The agent gives them the deed to the house and Szedvilas carefully reads over the entire document. He is shocked to see that the deed stipulates the family pay a monthly rental fee of twelve dollars for eight and a half years. The family is upset and the agent offers to go get a lawyer. The lawyer arrives, though they feel no better when he greets the agent by his first name. The lawyer assures them that the contract is sound and, frightened, Teta Elzbieta gives the agent the three hundred dollars. They all feel, however, that they have been swindled.

When Jurgis comes home, he is furious at the news. He threatens to go out and kill the agent that night. Instead, he and Svedvilas go and see another lawyer who agrees to read over their deed. The lawyer confirms that this is a standard contract and that the rent is paid only for the eight years after which the family owns the home. Jurgis is so relieved that he does not even object to the lawyer’s half dollar fee. He rushes home with the good news, and everyone is relieved that he did not kill the agent. Stunned by the confusion and excitement, Ona and her stepmother cry through the entire night.