Summary and Analysis Chapter 19



Jurgis' search for a midwife leads him to Madame Haupt, who is reluctant to help because Jurgis has no money to pay. After much debate and Jurgis' leaving in frustration and anger, she agrees to help.

The women again send Jurgis from the house. When he returns, he finds that the baby is dead and Ona is dying. Jurgis rushes to her; she opens her eyes for one brief instant of recognition and dies. He remains numb and shocked until Kotrina arrives home from selling papers. He takes her money and announces that he's going to get drunk.


Sinclair provides an excellent description of life in the slums as Jurgis searches for help and, after finally finding some, is dismissed from the scene. The death of Ona is the first of two central turning points in Jurgis' life (the other being the death of his first son later in the book). He was supposed to have been taking care of her, but was unable to do so.

This entire chapter is a series of losses — Jurgis loses his way, his house, and his wife. And all that he has lost has been the fault of the capitalistic society in which he lives. The same society has to depend on the Madame Haupts of the world.

Madame Haupt, an enormously overweight and dirty woman, is one of the few minor characters who are realistically portrayed. Sinclair spends little time developing other minor characters, and as a result, most of them are stereotypes. She, however, is a multi-dimensional character who embodies life in Packingtown: She is the poor man's doctor, the necessary evil.


wrapper a loose garment wrapped around the body; especially, a woman's dressing gown.

wienerwurst a smoked sausage of beef or beef and pork, etc., enclosed in a membranous casing and made in cylindrical links a few inches long.

lager a type of beer stored at a low temperature for aging after it has been brewed.

vista a comprehensive mental view of a series of remembered or anticipated events.

haggard having a wild, wasted, worn look, as from sleeplessness, grief, or illness.

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