The Jungle By Upton Sinclair Summary and Analysis Chapter 31

Summary

Soon after getting his job, Jurgis returns to Marija, imploring her to leave the brothel, but she refuses. She is addicted to morphine and cannot find work anywhere else. Jurgis reluctantly departs, returning home to a sick Elzbieta and her unruly sons, but this time, instead of leaving, Jurgis turns to socialism for support.

Members of the Socialist Party in Chicago are preparing for the election. On the night before the vote, a millionaire sympathetic to the socialist movement invites Jurgis to dinner. Here Jurgis encounters Lucas, an evangelist, and Nicholas Schliemann, a former philosophy professor, who debate the nature of socialism while answering questions for a skeptical magazine editor.

Jurgis attends a party gathering the next day to watch election returns. The Socialist Party makes substantial gains across the country, especially in Packingtown. One socialist leader interprets the results as a call for further organization by party members, for the voters may not really be socialists, but rather just disgruntled democrats. The Jungle closes with the orator inciting the crowd with chants of "Chicago will be ours! CHICAGO WILL BE OURS!"

Analysis

Marija cannot leave her new life. This harsh reality is evident, and for her to do so would undermine everything else in the text. Although socialism is the only hope for the working person, Marija does not see this. She has reluctantly accepted the way of a capitalistic society and has become both unwilling and unable to change.

New characters discuss the two major aspects of socialism — its religious and scientific implications. Some embrace socialism as a new religion, replacing Christianity, while others favor the efficiency, rationality, and order of the new system, believing it superior to all other forms of government. The dialogue between Schliemann and Lucas does nothing to further the plot and does not include Jurgis at all; rather, they voice Sinclair's opinions, becoming a sounding board for the pro-socialist movement.

The statistics at the end of the novel mirror actual results of the presidential election of 1904. Although the socialists view the number of votes they received as a significant increase from the past election, the actual number of votes was statistically quite low. In the original serial form of The Jungle, Jurgis is arrested on election night; however, this ending does not emphasize a socialist triumph, and Sinclair changed the ending when The Jungle was published in book form.

Glossary

itinerant traveling from place to place or on a circuit.

stygian dark or gloomy.

chloroform to kill with chloroform, a toxic, cancer-causing, colorless, volatile liquid that has a sweet taste.

zealot a person who is ardently devoted to a purpose; fanatic.

anarchist a person who promotes anarchy, or political disorder, as by flouting or ignoring rules, duties, or accepted standards of conduct.

catchpenny made merely to sell; cheap and flashy.

pettifogger a lawyer who handles petty cases, especially one who uses unethical methods in conducting trumped-up cases.

chicanery the use of clever but tricky talk or action to deceive or evade, as in legal dealings.

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