Summary and Analysis
Unable to gain lodging for the night with a $100 bill, Jurgis attempts to change it by buying a beer. The bartender, however, only provides change for a $1 bill, and a fight ensues. Jurgis winds up in jail again. In prison, Jurgis once more meets up with Jack Duane. No longer needing to provide for a wife and child, Jurgis is now able to accept Duane's worldview and vows to look him up after he serves his time.
After Jurgis is released from prison, he goes to Duane, who introduces Jurgis to the criminal world of Chicago and the inner workings of the illicit alliances among politicians, businessmen, and criminals. Buck Holloran, an acquaintance of Duane's, explains many of the inner workings of the corruption as he hires Jurgis to collect the wages of sundry city employees. After a series of illegal adventures with Duane, Jurgis meets up with Bush Harper, the man who helped Jurgis become a citizen, and eventually gets involved with politics.
Mike Scully needs to rig an election and get the workers to vote for a Republican candidate. In order to do this, he needs a man who is familiar with the stockyards and is willing and able to organize the campaign. Jurgis is that man and is soon working at Durham's. Working as a hog trimmer, Jurgis joins the union and begins to spread news about Doyle, the Republican candidate for office. Chiefly through his efforts, Doyle is elected, and the laborers mistakenly believe they have used the system to defeat a capitalist.
Jurgis' rebellious nature, which previously has only been alluded to, is now displayed in full force. He becomes a criminal, taking full advantage of the system. And for the first time in his life, Jurgis is getting ahead in the world. Although he demonstrates a bit of sympathy for his first victim, Jurgis soon submits to the natural law of the jungle, becoming the hunter instead of the hunted.
Once again, mention is made of the Socialist Party, and once again Jurgis does not understand or care to understand the socialist position. Jurgis believes that he now has control over his destiny and is making choices that will affect his future positively. In reality, he is still being used by the higher-ups on the pecking order. This time, Scully is the one pulling all Jonas' strings.
The majority of this chapter continues the muckraking that Sinclair has been doing throughout The Jungle. This time, the police and government officials are the primary people being indicted. Thematically, this illustrates Sinclair's beliefs that society is severely corrupt: The business world, political world, and criminal world are all equally exploitative in nature. By the end of the chapter, Duane, who has served his purpose, disappears, driven out of town by the police.
oligarchy form of government in which the ruling power belongs to a few persons.
tenement a building divided into apartments, now specifically in the slums that is run-down and overcrowded.
usurer a person who lends money at interest, here specifically at a rate of interest that is excessive or unlawfully high.
firebrand a person who stirs up others to revolt or strife.
hogshead a large barrel or cask holding from 63 to 140 gallons.
Plutocrat a person whose wealth is the source of control or great influence.