Summary and Analysis Chapter 17



In the morning, Jack Duane joins Jurgis in the cell. Duane's attitude about the necessary war against society appeals to Jurgis, who is in the beginning of his rebellious stage. Jurgis' trial is a farce, as the judge readily believes Connor's false testimony and sentences Jurgis to 30 days in prison. While there, Stanislovas visits Jurgis, begging for money and telling Jurgis of the continued troubles affecting the family.


Jurgis' sham of a trial should surprise no one. The judge is bought and sold like any other tangible good, so even though Connor is the guilty predator, the victim is penalized. The judge does not care that his ruling may force Jurgis' family into starvation.

Jurgis' family suffers a variety of problems during his incarceration marking the beginning of the end. Now all able-bodied children are forced to work, which is precisely what Jurgis and Elzbieta wanted to avoid. Marija becomes the latest worker to sustain an on-the-job injury, which, of course, is not the responsibility of her employer. Yet again, laborers suffer permanent damage as a result of their employment; they are butchered in a manner similar to the other animals in Packingtown. In Packingtown, capitalism is as destructive as the weather and disease.

The introduction of Jack Duane is important as Jurgis begins to enter a new stage in his life. Jurgis' relationship with Duane illustrates how circumstances can force a man into a life of crime. Trying to be a law-abiding, hard-working citizen does Jurgis little good. For his family's sake, Jurgis demonstrates hard work, self-reliance, and values, but when he loses his family, he loses all desire to do the "right" thing.


the deuce the devil; a mild oath or exclamation of annoyance, surprise, or frustration.

freebooter a plunderer.

bigamist a person who marries a second time while a previous marriage is still legally in effect.

confidence men swindlers who try to gain the confidence of victims in order to defraud.

imprecation a curse.

Black Maria a patrol wagon.

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