The acziavimas is a wedding ceremony where all the men dance with the bride and then put money in a hat as appreciation for the party. This helps the family pay for the festivities, which can cost as much as $300, a full year's wages for many of the men.
The Beef Trust is a conglomerate of corporations that work together to create a monopoly of the beef industry.
A blacklist is a secret list kept by companies containing the names of workers that they will not hire. By withholding jobs, the companies exact a measure of revenge on a worker that they feel has slighted them.
Capitalism is an economic system in which capital and land are privately owned and used to create wealth. In Sinclair's novel, capitalism is an abusive system that degrades workers and keeps them in poverty.
Consumption is an old term used for the medical condition tuberculosis. It is called consumption because the cough and frailty that accompanies the disease seems to "consume" the entire person.
Gynophobia is an irrational fear of, or hatred towards, women.
The Harvester Trust is a group of industries that work together to create a monopoly for selling farm and industrial equipment. The Harvester Trust is prized as an example of American industrialism, though it is tangled in the corrupt webs of capitalism.
The killing beds are the floors of the meatpacking factory where cattle are harnessed and killed. The killing beds are some of the harshest places to work in a packing plant. This is where Jurgis first works upon arriving in Packingtown.
Packingtown is an area of Chicago where the cattle stockyards and meat packing industry are located. It is a hub for immigrant workers.
A "Slav" is a nickname for a person from a Slavic country in Eastern Europe.
Socialism is an economic philosophy that advocates for a worker-owned means of production.
Unions are groups of laborers and workers that organize themselves in order to fight for better wages and working conditions. If a union decides to strike, they withhold their labor from the factory, which prevents the company from making money. In The Jungle, the Irish run the unions. They are both a force for good in the working community and a source of corruption.
A veselija is a Lithuanian wedding-day feast.
Xenophobia is an unfounded fear or hatred of something that is other to oneself. This is a term associated with fear and hatred towards immigrant populations.
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.
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...
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...