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The Jungle

Summary

Chapters 14–17

Summary Chapters 14–17

The family’s slew of misfortunes following Jurgis’s imprisonment clearly marks the beginning of the family’s inevitable descent into ruin. Sinclair foreshadows this fall throughout the early sections of the novel; his commitment to exemplifying the evils of capitalism necessitates that these exploited immigrants fail in their naïve pursuit of the American Dream. Throughout the novel, Sinclair relentlessly insists that hard work, family values, self-reliance, and self-motivated action—the underpinnings of the American Dream—do absolutely nothing to provide the means for social advancement. The wage laborers that populate The Jungle are moved inevitably toward ruin and abuse by forces beyond their control. Capitalism becomes a force as inevitable and careless as nature. It picks off unfortunate individuals as carelessly as cold weather, disease, and heat exhaustion.