Lithuanian immigrant who comes to America with his wife, Ona. Jurgis
is a strong, determined individual with a faith in the American
Dream of self-betterment, but his health, family, and hopes are
slowly destroyed by the miserable working and living conditions
in Packingtown. Jurgis, who doesn’t elicit much more from the reader
than pity, is an obvious instrument that Sinclair uses to express
his vision of the exploitation of the worker by capitalism and his redemption
Elzbieta’s stepdaughter and Jurgis’s wife. A kind, lovely, and optimistic
girl, Ona is ruined by the forces of capitalism that work against
the family, particularly after she is raped by her boss, Phil Connor.
in-depth analysis of Ona Lukoszaite.
Teta Elzbieta Lukoszaite
Ona’s stepmother and the mother of six others. A
resilient, strong-willed old woman, Teta Elzbieta is one of the
strongest and most important characters in The Jungle.
uses her to represent the redemptive power of family, home, and
in-depth analysis of Teta Elzbieta Lukoszaite.
Ona’s cousin, who travels to America with the rest
of the family because her employer in the old country is unkind
to her. Marija is a large, strong woman, capable of standing up
for herself; because she first tries to fight back against the corrupt
bosses, she represents a spirit of defiance among the immigrants that
is slowly crushed.
boss, who sexually harasses her at the factory where she works.
A bullying, depraved man, Connor represents the moral corruption
of power in Chicago as well as the complicated relationship between
politics, crime, and business. He has ties to all three and, thus, has
the power to destroy Jurgis’s life.
Dede Antanas Rudku
Jurgis’s father, who travels to America with the
rest of the family. A proud man, Dede Antanas is prevented by his
old age from obtaining a job through normal means. He has to resort
to the humiliation of paying a man a third of his wages in return
for a job, whose unsanitary and unsafe working conditions destroy
and Jurgis’s son. Antanas is a strong, sturdy little boy, but he
drowns in the mud in the street while Jurgis is at work. The death
of Antanas signals the death of hope in Jurgis’s life.
The family’s Lithuanian neighbor when they move
into their house. A concerned old woman, Grandmother Majauszkiene
has lived in Packingtown for many years and has seen one generation
after another of immigrants ground into ruin by the merciless labor
practices of the factories. She became a socialist before she even
came to America.
One of Teta Elzbieta’s two crippled children, injured
when a wagon ran over one of his legs when he was a toddler. Juozapas
unwittingly helps the family when he meets a rich lady while foraging
for food in the local dump.
One of Teta Elzbieta’s children, who is forced to
care for the children and do household chores. When Jurgis
is sent to prison, Kotrina has to go to work selling newspapers
on the streets with her able-bodied brothers.
One of Teta Elzbieta’s children, a young boy of
about fourteen. Stanislovas shirks his responsibilities as a wage
earner because he is terrified of frostbite. Jurgis often has to
beat him to make him go to work.
Elzbieta’s brother, who first encourages the family to travel to
America. After months of poverty in Packingtown, Jonas disappears,
and the family never hears from him again. His absence deprives
the family of a key wage earner and throws them into a greater financial
polished, charismatic criminal whom Jurgis meets during his first
prison term. Jack later introduces Jurgis to Chicago’s criminal
underworld, where money comes easily to Jurgis for the first time
forelady in Ona’s factory. Cruel and bitter, Miss Henderson is the
jilted mistress of one of the factory superintendents. She also
runs a brothel and arranges to get jobs for some of the prostitutes
who work for her. She hates Ona because Ona is a “decent married
girl,” and she and her toadies try to make Ona as miserable as possible.
proprietor of a small Chicago hotel and a well-known proponent of
socialism. Jurgis obtains a job as Hinds’s porter not long after
his conversion to socialism.
Polish immigrant who speaks Lithuanian. After Jurgis hears a rousing
speech at a socialist political meeting, Ostrinski is assigned the
task of teaching Jurgis about socialism.
A spokesperson for socialism. Nicholas gives a long
explanation of socialist philosophy to a magazine editor who has
written against socialism in the past. He functions as a mouthpiece
for Sinclair’s own political philosophy.
corrupt, wealthy democrat in Chicago who owns the festering dump
in which Juozapas and other children forage for food. Scully makes
money off the housing scheme to which Jurgis’s family falls victim.
He works at rigging elections, and Jurgis becomes one of his henchmen
during his brief stint in the Chicago criminal underworld.
The failing proprietor of a delicatessen in Packingtown
who knows Jonas from the old country. A kind but troubled man, Jokubas
represents the harsh reality of capitalism and reveals the naïveté
of Jurgis’s dreams of success.