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The Jungle

Characters Ona Lukoszaite
Characters Ona Lukoszaite

Like Jurgis, Ona is more a type than an individual, and Sinclair constructs her as an appealing feminine contrast to Jurgis’s masculinity. Whereas Jurgis is confident and optimistic, Ona is fragile and easily frightened, as when she frets over the cost of the wedding feast mere moments after marrying Jurgis. Ona is extremely young—not even sixteen at the start of the novel—and is presented as a delicate, lovely picture of female traits that Sinclair believed his readers would find laudable: docility, loyalty, and trust in her husband and family. Ona experiences a crisis when Phil Connor rapes her, and she takes on a more independent existence when she lies to Jurgis about her whereabouts so that he will not guess what has happened to her. But generally, throughout the novel, Ona is mainly portrayed as a girl for Jurgis to love and a wife to complete the family ideal that Sinclair repeatedly exposes to the destructive forces of capitalism. Ona’s death occurs in Chapter 19, only slightly more than halfway through the novel, and her final months are largely a slide into increased fragility and poor health caused by her return to work only a week after giving birth to Antanas. In this way, Ona’s death is portrayed as another sacrifice that Jurgis must make to capitalism, which pulls his family apart before he can even fully establish it.