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"Once or twice in these outbreaks he caught Ona’s eye, and it seemed to him like the eye of a hunted animal; there were broken phrases of anguish and despair now and then, amid her frantic weeping. It was only because he was so numb and beaten himself that Jurgis did not worry more about this. But he never thought of it, except when he was dragged to it—he lived like a dumb beast of burden, knowing only the moment in which he was."
The meaning of these two similes takes us right back to the title of the novel. The family, and the entire population of Packingtown live like animals. Sinclair likens the inhabitants of Packingtown to hunted animals (frightened) and beasts of burden (worked like animals).
Source(s): The Jungle