Summary and Analysis
After the speech is over, Jurgis makes his way backstage to meet the speaker. The speaker, recognizing Jurgis' desire to learn more, introduces Jurgis to Comrade Ostrinski. Ostrinski shares his own experiences and history as he takes Jurgis back to his own house. Ostrinski explains socialism to Jurgis from the point of view of a workingman. From both Ostrinski and party literature, Jurgis is able to make meaning out of his Packingtown experiences and sees socialism as the light — as the only means of salvation for all people.
Jurgis' conversion is the key, as he acquires a new dignity, something he lost during his time in Packingtown. An unintended effect, though, is that readers are not inclined to believe or accept this transformation. Every time things start to look as though they may work out for Jurgis, something else happens, which only makes his situation worse. Readers can accept that socialism provides both hope and promise for Jurgis' future, but are not convinced that socialism is a positive and meaningful reality. Sinclair has spent too much time showing the harsh reality of Jurgis' world to expect readers to accept a chance for salvation. Jurgis' change is effective in propaganda but not effective in a novel.
Ostrinski symbolizes the heroic, working proletariat; he is the embodiment of all workers. He exists solely to be the voice of socialism from the workingman's perspective. As he explains socialism to Jurgis, he simultaneously explains it to the readers.
Marseillaise the national anthem of France, composed in 1792 during the French Revolution.
Tolstoy Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist whose most famous works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are examples of realistic fiction.
proletarian a member of the proletariat, the working class, especially the industrial working class.
incarnation any person or thing serving as the type or embodiment of a quality or concept.