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Sample essay topic, essay writing: The Jungle - 1357 words
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By: Michelle Part I In the book The Jungle, there are many characters. The major character is Jurgis Rudkus. The book revolves around his life in Packingtown. Jurgis is originally from Lithuania. When we first meet him he appears as very large and powerful. He has a wife, Ona Lukoszaite, and a son named Antanas.
Mike Skully is the powerful political leader in Packingtown. Phil Connor is a foreman in Packingtown "politically connected" through Skully and causes much trouble for Jurgis. Jack Duane is an experienced and educated criminal who is also "politically connected". A man named Ostrinski is a half blind tailor who teachers Jurgis about socialism. There are also members of Ona's family who play minor roles in the story. The story opens with a feast at Jurgis and Ona's wedding in America. They have a wedding feast after the ceremony
This is where Ona hopes her and Jurgis get some money. To their surprise, the young do not observe the tradition of giving money to the bride to help pay for the feast. Ona becomes worried that they are not going have enough money, but Jurgis simply replies by saying "I will work harder". The story then flashbacks to how the two first met. Jurgis met Ona at a horse fair, and they fell in love.
They were too poor to have a wedding because Ona's father had died. In hopes of finding freedom and fortune, they left for America, bringing several members of Ona's family with them. As soon as Jurgis and his family arrive in America they are faced with a problem. They do not speak English and get lost. Finally, they get a cab. They are let off at the yards and bump into Jonas's friend.
He finds them a place to stay in Packingtown. It is a section of Chicago where the meat packing industry is centralized. Jurgis tours the plant and sees the efficiency. No part of the animal is wasted. The tour guide specifically says, " they use everything about the hog except the squeal," (The Jungle, pg. 38). Jurgis quickly gets a job, on the cattle killing beds.
The other members of the family soon find jobs, except for the children. They are put in schools. Jurgis and Ona decide that they want a home because they do not like where they are staying now. They arrange to see one of the houses. They like the house and buy it.
Although they do not really know what the contract says, Elzbieta signs the contract. At first, Jurgis was pleased with the job but soon learns that corruption, dishonesty, and bribery plague America. He is forced to work at high speeds for long hours with low pay, and so is the rest of the family. He is cheated out of his money several times. Him and Ona find out that their house is 15 years old and not worth what they paid for it. This woman also tells them that they have to pay interest on the mortgage.
Jurgis never knew about this. Now they are faced with even more bills. The children must leave school and go to work to help the family survive. This means they will never receive the education they need to rise above this. Ona is not permitted to take a holiday, even for her own wedding.
Jurgis begins to realize that even a physically strong man, willing to work hard, can be beaten by the system. Eventually his luck runs out and Jurgis is injured on the job. His foot swells and he no other choice but to lay in and wait until his foot heals. Ironically, he is free to enjoy the company of his son only when he is laid off from work. In just a few years after immigrating to the country, he is brutalized by circumstances to the point of ruin. His once mighty stature has been reduced to ruble, and looks worn and unhappy.
After two months of waiting, with bills piling up, Jurgis goes back to work to find his job filled by another man. Due to his large house payment and the need to eat, Jurgis takes the worst possible job in Packingtown, the Glue Factory. By this time he has taken to drinking and has started to move further and further away from his family. After the birth of her first son, Antanas, Ona soon becomes pregnant again. She becomes very upset, but will not tell Jurgis why.
After she fails to come home one night, Jurgis confronts her. She breaks into tears and tells Jurgis that a foreman named Connor forced a sexual relationship on her. Jurgis curses and runs off to find Connor. After beating Connor to a pulp, Jurgis is sent to jail for 30 days. The judge refuses to listen to his story seriously. While in jail, Stanislovas comes to give Jurgis some news.
He lets Jurgis know that the house payment is unpaid, and no one has a job anymore. When Jurgis is released, he finds out that his family has moved into an even poorer neighborhood, and Ona is in labor at that very moment. Due to his current lack of funds, Jurgis finds a Dutch lady to deliver his child for $1.25. Even with the help of the Dutch lady, neither the baby, nor Ona, who went into labor two months early, survives. Jurgis pulls himself together for the sake of Antanas and gets a job. Following one day of work, Jurgis is let go because they say they do not need him anymore. Jurgis realizes that people will not hire because of what he did to Connor.
So, Jurgis works on and off downtown earning little money. He finally finds a job a steel mill through Elzbieta's son. He burns his hand one day and has to miss some work. He gets to spend some good time with his son. He then returns to work.
On his return home one day from work, he gets some horrible news. Antanas has drowned in the mud-filled street. Jurgis gives up on Packingtown and his family. He hops aboard a passing train, and leaves Chicago. Jurgis enjoys a "hobo" life, wandering across the country.
When winter comes, he is forced to return to Chicago. He is drinking extremely heavily. While begging and wandering through the streets, he falls in to a bit of luck and meets a young man named Freddie Jones. Freddie is the son of rich Old Man Jones, takes Jurgis back to his home. He gives Jurgis $100 and the privilege of dining and drinking with him. Eventually when the young man falls asleep, the butler throws out Jurgis out.
With the $100 bill in his pocket, Jurgis figures the only place he can get change is a bar. The bartender makes him buy a drink and then gives him a bunch of change. Jurgis becomes enraged and pounces on the man. Jurgis gets arrested again for battery and lands in jail. In jail, he meets Jack Duane, an experienced criminal. After being freed from jail, Jurgis and Duane team up in a luxurious, but risky life of crime. Jurgis learns about the connections between criminals, police, politics, and big business.
He becomes a member of this complex network and moves into politics. Ironically, under these evil conditions, he discovers a new confidence and talent for management. He runs into Connor again, and beats him to a pulp a second time. Connor's political connections cause Jurgis to lose all his acquired profit. Jurgis is back to wandering the streets.
To keep warm Jurgis walks into a socialist meeting. An orator who describes the life of the working class and how workers can take active measures to improve society profoundly move him. After the meeting, he is introduced to a man named Ostrinski, who teaches Jurgis about Socialism. It dawns on him that he is entitled to join this movement. Jurgis agrees completely with the political party's ideals, and becomes an active member.
The novel concludes on a positive note, showing that the socialist party made significant progress all across the country. Word Count: 1360.
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