the book the jungle
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The narrator sketches background information about Jurgis and his family. Young and powerfully built, Jurgis came to Chicago from the rural countryside of Lithuania. In Lithuania, Ona’s father died, leaving his family troubled by debt. They lost their farm and had little in cash savings. They spoke of traveling to America, where the wages were much higher. Ona did not want to leave her siblings or Teta Elzbieta behind. Teta Elzbieta’s brother Jonas knew of a man who made a fortune in America, inspiring the family to work to make the trip possible. Jurgis worked for months to save money to help pay for the cost of the voyage. His father, Dede Antanas, resolved to go with his son and Ona’s family. Marija Berczynskas, Ona’s cousin, joined the family after suffering the abuse of an unkind employer in her homeland. She reckoned that her powerful physique would earn her more money and respect in America. Jurgis and his extended family, twelve in all, fell prey to various con artists in Lithuania and America. By the time they reached Chicago after landing in New York, their store of savings had dwindled.