The Jungle

Describe, in detail, what happens the second time Ona doesn't come home.

Chapter 15

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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.