The Jungle

The Jungle
n The Jungle, the character of Jurgis, who is also the protagonist of the story, undergoes a tremendous transformation throughout the story. Jurgis?s moral values slowly decline throughout each chapter as his life slowly plunges downward. In the beginning, Jurgis has a strong devoted feeling toward his family along with a positive attitude towards his new country in which he is about to live and work. He vows to work hard and earn money in order to pay for the veselija from the wedding. He eventually finds a job and earns enough for the family to settle into a home. As his son, Antanas, is born, Jurgis finds it harder to endure the brutal work conditions and also have to worry about his role as a father and as a husband at the same time. The family slowly drifts into poverty, as they cannot keep up with their jobs. Jurgis begins to drift away from his pregnant wife, Ona, throughout their relationship, and Jurgis eventually turns to alcohol. Jurgis reaches his breaking point when he discovers that Ona was harassed an then raped by her boss, Phil Connor. Jurgis then storms to Ona?s factory and beats Connor. He is eventually arrested and sentenced to thirty days in prison.
As he is in prison, he worries about the family, who no longer has a head of the family to support them. Upon release from jail, Jurgis finds out that Ona is in labor. However, the baby dies and Ona passes away shortly after. Grieving over the tragedy, Jurgis takes three dollars from the money the children earned and spends it on liquor. Tete Elzbieta convinces him not to forget about his son, Antanas, so Jurgis finds a job at a steel mill to support the rest of the family. One day, when returning from work, Jurgis learns that his son tragically drowned. He then abandons the family and hitchhikes on a train car to the countryside. Jurgis spends the rest of his seemingly destroyed life finding jobs and using the earned money on drinking. He also turns to a life of crime, because he soon believes the crime is the best possible way to survive. Towards the end of the book, Jurgis walks upon a socialist meeting. As he listens to the speech, he then becomes interested in the ideas behind socialism, and reacts to it as thought it was a new religion. He takes up socialism with a passion, and is, in a sense, ?redeemed? by it. An admirable quality about this character is that he was able to survive such a hard life and eventually find joy in the form of socialism in the political world.
Many elements of setting are extremely pertinent to the plot of The Jungle because the harsh working environment in which the story takes place is what causes the destruction of Jurgis?s lifestyle and family. Therefore, the setting is somewhat responsible for most of the events that take place. The poor working conditions that the family face causes them to slowly deteriorate. Throughout their transition into poverty, many of them fall ill and starve. Some lose body parts due to frostbite, and others also end up dying due to the environment (such as Antanas, who drowns in a pool). The time of the plot is also pertinent to the story, since it is in the period of when capitalism was to be overthrown by socialism.
The values in The Jungle can only loosely compare to today mainly due to the big difference in time periods from when the book was written. Today, America is not as corrupt as the town of Packingtown in the story was. The working conditions aren?t very poor at all today in America, but the slaughter of animals that takes place in the story still goes on today in the meat industry. The poverty rate in the U.S. is high today, but there is not as much famine and sickness as there is in the story. The main difference between the values of today and the values of The Jungle is the fairness in working conditions. Throughout the story, there are many instances where labor just came to the point where it was unbearable for the character. It just seemed as though individuals need to work almost 24/7 in order to survive. For instance, right after Antanas was born, Ona had to go back to work. This did not seem right for a mother who just gave birth to go back to work so she can continue earning the money needed just to survive. Also, when Antanas was born, Jurgis was barely able to spend time with him because he had to work. And wages were extremely low especially considering the amount of hours worked. In the story, it eventually came to the point where the children had to work because not enough money was being made by the parents, even at such long hours. Shockingly, a lot of the moral values in during the story are similar to today?s values. There have been scandals in which corrupt politicians bought votes just like in the story, and also a lot of the cheating that went on can compare to today. In the story, Jurgis?s family is scammed into buying a house that wasn?t even finished. Also, when Jurgis is trying to get change for a hundred dollar bill, the bartender only gives him back ninety-five cents, but refuses to give him his real change. These examples can relate to moral values in America today.

The Jungle 7 of 10 on the basis of 2206 Review.