The Jungle Quotes

100+ of the best book quotes from The Jungle
“It was nearly a year and a half ago that Jurgis had met Ona, at a horse fair a hundred miles from home. Jurgis had never expected to get married – he had laughed at it as a foolish trap for a man to walk into; but here, without ever having spoken a word to her, with no more than the exchange of half a dozen smiles, he found himself, purple in the face with embarrassment and terror, asking her parents to sell her to him for his wife – and offering his father’s two horses he had been sent to the fair to sell. But Ona’s father proved as a rock – the girl was yet a child, and he was a rich man, and his daughter was not to be had in that way. So Jurgis went home with a heavy heart, and that spring and summer toiled and tried hard to forget. In the fall, after the harvest was over, he saw that it would not do, and tramped the full fortnight’s journey that lay between him and Ona.”
“As it chanced, [Jurgis] had been hurt on a Monday, and had just paid for his last week’s board and his room rent, and spent nearly all the balance of his Saturday’s pay. He had less than seventy-five cents in his pockets, and a dollar and a half due him for the day’s work he had done before he was hurt. He might possibly have sued the company, and got some damages for his injuries, but he did not know this, and it was not the company’s business to tell him.”
“There came no answer to it, however, and at last, the day before New Year’s, Jurgis bade good-by to Jack Duane. The latter gave him his address, or rather the address of his mistress, and made Jurgis promise to look him up. ‘Maybe I could help you out of a hole some day,’ he said, and added that he was sorry to have him go.”
″[Jurgis] could not hear it often enough; he could not ask with enough variations. Yes, they had bought the house, they had really bought it. It belonged to them, they had only to pay the money and it would be all right. Then Jurgis covered his face with his hands, for there were tears in his eyes, and he felt like a fool. But he had had such a horrible fright; strong man as he was, it left him almost too weak to stand up.”
“Ona might have married and left them, but she would not, for she loved Teta Elzbieta. It was Jonas who suggested that they all go to America, where a friend of his had gotten rich. He would work, for his part, and the women would work, and some of the children, doubtless – they would live somehow. Jurgis, too, had heard of America. That was a country where, they said, a man might earn three rubles a day; and Jurgis figured what three rubles a day would mean, with prices as they were where he lived, and decided forthwith that he would go to America and marry, and be a rich man in the bargain. In that country, rich or poor, a man was free, it was said; he did not have to go into the army, he did not have to pay out his money to rascally officials – he might do as he pleased, and count himself as good as any other man.”
“Excepting for that one walk when he left jail, when he was too much worried to notice anything, and for a few times that he had rested in the city parks in the winter time when he was out of work, he had literally never seen a tree! And now he felt like a bird lifted up and borne away upon a gale; he stopped and stared at each new sight of wonder—at a herd of cows, and a meadow full of daisies, at hedgerows set thick with June roses, at little birds singing in the trees.”
“So in the summer time they had all set out for America. At the last moment there joined them Marija Berczynskas, who was a cousin of Ona’s. Marija was an orphan, and had worked since childhood for a rich farmer of Vilna, who beat her regularly. It was only at the age of twenty that it had occurred to Marija to try her strength, when she had risen up and nearly murdered the man, and then come away.”
″‘Little one,’ he said, in a low voice, ‘do not worry – it will not matter to us. We will pay them all somehow. I will work harder.’ That was always what Jurgis said. Ona had grown used to it as the solution of all difficulties – ‘I will work harder!’ He had said that in Lithuania when one official had taken his passport from him, and another had arrested him for being without it, and the two had divided a third of his belongings. He had said it again in New York, when the smooth-spoken agent had taken them in hand and made them pay such high prices, and almost prevented their leaving his place, in spite of their paying. Now he said it a third time, and Ona drew a deep breath; it was so wonderful to have a husband, just like a grown woman – and a husband who could solve all problems, and who was so big and strong!”
“Of these older people many wear clothing reminiscent in some detail of home – an embroidered waistcoat or stomacher, or a gaily colored handkerchief, or a coat with large cuffs and fancy buttons. All these things are carefully avoided by the young, most of whom have learned to speak English and to affect the latest style of clothing. The girls wear ready-made dresses or shirt waists, and some of them look quite pretty. Some of the young men you would take to be Americans, of the type of clerks, but for the fact that they wear their hats in the room.”
“Jurgis had first come to the stockyards he had been as clean as any workingman could well be. But later on, what with sickness and cold and hunger and discouragement, and the filthiness of his work, and the vermin in his home, he had given up washing in winter, and in summer only as much of him as would go into a basin. He had had a shower bath in jail, but nothing since—and now he would have a swim!”
“It was like breakers upon a beach; there was new water, but the wave looked just the same. He strolled about and talked with them, and the biggest of them told tales of their prowess, while those who were weaker, or younger and inexperienced, gathered round and listened in admiring silence. The last time he was there, Jurgis had thought of little but his family; but now he was free to listen to these men, and to realize that he was one of them—that their point of view was his point of view, and that the way they kept themselves alive in the world was the way he meant to do it in the future.”
“Jurgis was confident of his ability to get work for himself, unassisted by any one. As we have said before, he was not mistaken in this. He had gone to Brown’s and stood there not more than half an hour before one of the bosses noticed his form towering above the rest, and signaled to him. The colloquy which followed was brief and to the point: ‘Speak English?’ ‘No; Lit-uanian.’ (Jurgis had studied this word carefully.) ‘Job?’ ‘Je.’ (A nod.)”
“Better luck than all this could hardly have been hoped for; there was only one of them left to seek a place. Jurgis was determined that Teta Elzbieta should stay at home to keep house, and that Ona should help her. He would not have Ona working – he was not that sort of a man, he said, and she was not that sort of a woman. It would be a strange thing if a man like him could not support the family, with the help of the board of Jonas and Marija. He would not even hear of letting the children go to work – there were schools here in America for children, Jurgis had heard, to which they could go for nothing. […] Jurgis would have it that Stanislovas should learn to speak English, and grow up to be a skilled man.”
“Promptly at seven the next morning Jurgis reported for work. He came to the door that had been pointed out to him, and there he waited for nearly two hours. The boss had meant for him to enter, but had not said this, and so it was only when on his way out to hire another man that he came upon Jurgis. He gave him a good cursing, but as Jurgis did not understand a word of it he did not object.”
“So, bit by bit, the feast takes form – there is a ham and a dish of sauerkraut, boiled rice, macaroni, bologna sausages, great piles of penny buns, bowls of milk, and foaming pitchers of beer. There is also, not six feet from your back, the bar, where you may order all you please and do not have to pay for it. “Eiksz! Graicziau!” screams Marija Berczynskas, and falls to work herself – for there is more upon the stove inside that will be spoiled if it be not eaten.”
“The peculiar bitterness of all this was that Jurgis saw so plainly the meaning of it. In the beginning he had been fresh and strong, and he had gotten a job the first day; but now he was second-hand, a damaged article, so to speak, and they did not want him. They had got the best of him – they had worn him out, with their speeding-up and their carelessness, and now they had thrown him away! And Jurgis would make the acquaintance of others of these unemployed men and find that they had all had the same experience.”
“There were hardened criminals and innocent men too poor to give bail; old men, and boys literally not yet in their teens. They were the drainage of the great festering ulcer of society […] Into this wild-beast tangle these men had been born without their consent, they had taken part in it because they could not help it; that they were in jail was no disgrace to them, for the game had never been fair, the dice were loaded. They were swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by the swindlers and thieves of millions of dollars.”
“For every one that Jurgis spoke to assured him that it was a waste of time to seek employment for the old man in Packingtown. Szedvilas told him that the packers did not even keep the men who had grown old in their own service – to say nothing of taking on new ones. And not only was it the rule here, it was the rule everywhere in America, so far as he knew.”
“A very few days of practical experience in this land of high wages had been sufficient to make clear to them the cruel fact that it was also a land of high prices, and that in it the poor man was almost as poor as in any other corner of the earth; and so there vanished in a night all the wonderful dreams of wealth that had been haunting Jurgis. What had made the discovery all the more painful was that they were spending, at American prices, money which they had earned at home rates of wages – and so were really being cheated by the world! The last two days they had all but starved themselves – it made them quite sick to pay the prices that the railroad people asked them for food.”
″‘I hit him, sir,’ said Jurgis. ‘Say ‘your Honor,″ said the officer, pinching his arm hard. ‘Your Honor,’ said Jurgis, obediently. ‘You tried to choke him?’ ‘Yes, sir, your Honor.’ ‘Ever been arrested before?’ ‘No, sir, your Honor.’ ‘What have you to say for yourself?’ Jurgis hesitated. What had he to say? In two years and a half he had learned to speak English for practical purposes, but these had never included the statement that some one had intimidated and seduced his wife.”
There are able-bodied men here who work from early morning until late at night, in ice-cold cellars with a quarter of an inch of water on the floor—men who for six or seven months in the year never see the sunlight from Sunday afternoon till the next Sunday morning—
Source: Chapter 1, Line 28
“This information is definite and suited to the matter of fact; but how pitifully inadequate it would have seemed to one who understood that it was also the supreme hour of ecstasy in the life of one of God’s gentlest creatures, the scene of the wedding feast and the joy-transfiguration of little Ona Lukoszaite!”
Source: Chapter 1, Line 3
Most fearful they are to contemplate, the expenses of this entertainment.
Source: Chapter 1, Line 28
There are able-bodied men here who work from early morning until late at night, in ice-cold cellars with a quarter of an inch of water on the floor—men who for six or seven months in the year never see the sunlight from Sunday afternoon till the next Sunday morning—
Source: Chapter 1, Line 28
There are little children here, scarce in their teens, who can hardly see the top of the work benches—whose parents have lied to get them their places—
Source: Chapter 1, Line 28
“Stay, thou art fair!”
Source: Chapter 1, Line 31
What are you paid for, children of hell?”
Source: Chapter 1, Line 31
“Little one, do not worry—it will not matter to us. We will pay them all somehow. I will work harder.”
Source: Chapter 1, Line 36
“In the good old summertime—in the good old summertime! In the good old summertime—in the good old summertime!”
Source: Chapter 1, Line 39
“Leave it to me; leave it to me. I will earn more money—I will work harder.”
Source: Chapter 1, Line 43
“Yes, but what sort of men? Broken down tramps and good for nothings, fellows who have spent all their money drinking, and want to get more for it. Do you want me to believe that with these arms and he would clench his fists and hold them up in the air, so that you might see the rolling muscles that with these arms people will ever let me starve?”
Source: Chapter 2, Line 2
“Why, when they said ‘Chicago,’ people no longer pointed in some direction...”
Source: Chapter 2, Line 10
“Tomorrow”, “I will get a job, and perhaps Jonas will get one also; and then we can get a place of our own.”
Source: Chapter 2, Line 19
“And what will become of all these creatures?” cried Teta Elzbieta.
Source: Chapter 3, Line 21
“By tonight,” Jokubas answered, “they will all be killed and cut up; and over there on the other side of the packing houses are more railroad tracks, where the cars come to take them away.”
Source: Chapter 3, Line 22
Is she discouraged, does she drag herself about the house and find fault with everything? Why do you not tell her to try Dr. Lanahan’s Life Preservers?
Source: Chapter 5, Line 2
For most of the men here took a fearfully different view of the thing. They hated their work. They hated the bosses and they hated the owners; they hated the whole place, the whole neighborhood -even the whole city, with an all-inclusive hatred.
Source: Chapter 5, Line 9
It’s simply some boss who proposes to add a little to his income.
Source: Chapter 5, Line 13
After Jurgis had been there awhile he would know that the plants were simply honeycombed with rottenness of that sort—
Source: Chapter 5, Line 13
The bosses grafted off the men, and they grafted off each other; and some day the superintendent would find out about the boss, and then he would graft off the boss.
Source: Chapter 5, Line 13
Here was Durham’s, for instance, owned by a man who was trying to make as much money out of it as he could, and did not care in the least how he did it;
Source: Chapter 5, Line 13
And underneath him, ranged in ranks and grades like an army, were managers and superintendents and foremen, each one driving the man next below him and trying to squeeze out of him as much work as possible.
Source: Chapter 5, Line 13
There was no loyalty or decency anywhere about it, there was no place in it where a man counted for anything against a dollar.
Source: Chapter 5, Line 13
And worse than there being no decency, there was not even any honesty.
Source: Chapter 5, Line 13
It would be a strange thing if a man like him could not support the family, with the help of the board of Jonas and Marija.
Source: Chapter 4, Line 3
“Why pay rent? Why not own your own home? Do you know that you can buy one for less than your rent? We have built thousands of homes which are now occupied by happy families.”
Source: Chapter 4, Line 6
“it was quite in vain that the agent hinted at promptness—”
Source: Chapter 4, Line 13
“How was a poor man to know?”
Source: Chapter 4, Line 13
“It was all nothing but robbery, and there was no safety but in keeping out of it.”
Source: Chapter 4, Line 13
“If there is anything wrong, do not give him the money, but go out and get a lawyer.”
Source: Chapter 4, Line 18
Yes, they had bought the house, they had really bought it. It belonged to them, they had only to pay the money and it would be all right.
Source: Chapter 4, Line 26
Jurgis and Ona were very much in love; they had waited a long time - it was now well into the second year, and Jurgis judged everything by the criterion of its helping or hindering their union.
Source: Chapter 6, Line 1
Even the tricks and cruelties he saw at Durham’ s had little meaning for him just then, save as they might happen to affect his future with Ona.
Source: Chapter 6, Line 1
To be sure there had been a great many of them, which was a common failing in Packingtown; but they had worked hard, and the father had been a steady man, and they had a good deal more than half paid for the house. But he had been killed in an elevator accident in Durham’s.
Source: Chapter 6, Line 8
“You say twelve dollars a month; but that does not include the interest.”
Source: Chapter 6, Line 13
“I will work harder.”
Source: Chapter 6, Line 24
He was deeply pained, he said. He had not told them, simply because he had supposed they would understand that they had to pay interest upon their debt, as a matter of course.
Source: Chapter 6, Line 23
“Yes, perhaps it would be best; we will all have to make some sacrifices now.”
Source: Chapter 6, Line 24
“Come now, brother, give us a tune.”
Source: Chapter 8, Line 2
“Now we’re working for the church!”
Source: Chapter 8, Line 13
what she thought of a world where such things were allowed to happen
Source: Chapter 8, Line 15
“Deeper their heart grows and nobler their bearing, Whose youth in the fires of anguish hath died.”
Source: Chapter 7, Line 9
“Deeper their heart grows and nobler their bearing, Whose youth in the fires of anguish hath died.”
Source: Chapter 7, Line 9
She was shut up in one of the rooms where the people seldom saw the daylight;
Source: Chapter 10, Line 13
And as for Tamoszius—well, they had waited a long time, and they could wait a little longer. But day by day the music of Tamoszius’ violin became more passionate and heartbreaking;
Source: Chapter 10, Line 13
Ona, it was no strain sitting still sewing hams all day; and if she waited longer she might find that her dreadful forelady had put some one else in her place.
Source: Chapter 10, Line 19
“it seemed such a slight offense, and the punishment was so out of all proportion”
Source: Chapter 10, Line 20
“Perhaps they had a secret process for making chickens chemically—who knows?”
Source: Chapter 9, Line 10
“Come now, brother, give us a tune.”
Source: Chapter 8, Line 2
Each crisis would leave Jurgis more and more frightened, phrases of anguish and despair now and then, amid her frantic weeping.
Source: Chapter 15, Line 1
“I was afraid—I was just afraid!” sobbed Ona. “I knew you wouldn’t know where I was, and I didn’t know what you might do. I tried to get home, but I was so tired. Oh, Jurgis, Jurgis!”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 15
“She said here,” insisted Jurgis. “She told me all about you, and how you were, and what you said. Are you sure? You haven’t forgotten? You weren’t away?”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 33
She was lost on the street all night, and I’ve only just succeeded in getting her quiet.
Source: Chapter 15, Line 47
“You have lied to me, I say!” he cried. “You told me you had been to Jadvyga’s house that other night, and you hadn’t. You had been where you were last night—somewheres downtown, for I saw you get off the car. Where were you?”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 61
He had to bend down to her, she was so weak. She was pleading with him, in broken phrases, painfully uttered: “Have faith in me! Believe me!”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 68
“Believe that I—that I know best—that I love you! And do not ask me—what you did. Oh, Jurgis, please, please! It is for the best—it is—”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 70
“If you will only do it! If you will only—only believe me! It wasn’t my fault—I couldn’t help it—it will be all right—it is nothing—it is no harm. Oh, Jurgis—please, please!”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 71
“Oh, believe me, believe me!”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 72
You must not do it! It will drive me mad—it will kill me—no, no, Jurgis, I am crazy—it is nothing.
Source: Chapter 15, Line 73
You do not really need to know. We can be happy—we can love each other just the same.
Source: Chapter 15, Line 73
“He told me—he would have me turned off. He told me he would—we would all of us lose our places. We could never get anything to do—here—again. He—he meant it—he would have ruined us.”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 90
I was afraid of him—afraid to cry out.”
Source: Chapter 15, Line 94
It set every nerve of him a- tremble, it aroused all the demon in his soul.
Source: Chapter 15, Line 102
Things swam blood before him, and he screamed aloud in his fury, lifting his victim and smashing his head upon the floor.
Source: Chapter 15, Line 102
What happened to a man after any of these things, all depended upon the circumstances.
Source: Chapter 12, Line 15
An unmarried man could save, if he did not drink, and if he was absolutely selfish—that is, if he paid no heed to the demands of his old parents, or of his little brothers and sisters, or of any other relatives he might have, as well as of the members of his union, and his chums, and the people who might be starving to death next door.
Source: Chapter 12, Line 15
What did a man who worked in Durham’s fertilizer mill care about anything that the world might do to him!
Source: Chapter 16, Line 6
And they would lose it all; they would be turned out into the streets, and have to hide in some icy garret, and live or die as best they could!
Source: Chapter 16, Line 9
Jurgis sat gazing about the room for an hour or two; he was in hopes that some one of the family would come, but in this he was disappointed.
Source: Chapter 16, Line 14
Jurgis: Ah, it was too cruel! Why at least had they not left him alone—why, after they had shut him in jail, must they be ringing Christmas chimes in his ears!
Source: Chapter 16, Line 21
But a big man cannot stay drunk very long on three dollars.
Source: Chapter 20, Line 1
That was Sunday morning, and Monday night Jurgis came home, sober and sick, realizing that he had spent every cent the family owned, and had not bought a single instant’s forgetfulness with it.
Source: Chapter 20, Line 1
Oh, please treasure it and protect it! You must show yourself a man.
Source: Chapter 20, Line 7
They might trust him, he would keep his word, come what might.
Source: Chapter 20, Line 8
“it will not be worth your while to wait—there will be nothing for you here.”
Source: Chapter 20, Line 11
“The first time I had an accident, and the last time I was sent up for a month. I see. Well, I’ll give you a trial. Come early tomorrow and ask for Mr. Thomas.”
Source: Chapter 20, Line 25
“Well, I’m sorry, but I made a mistake. I can’t use you.”
Source: Chapter 20, Line 30
This let him into a lodging-house on several nights when he might otherwise have frozen to death; and it also gave him a chance now and then to buy a newspaper in the morning and hunt up jobs while his rivals were watching and waiting for a paper to be thrown away.
Source: Chapter 20, Line 37
when it was explained to him what “big money” he and all his family could make by coloring photographs, he could only promise to come in again when he had two dollars to invest in the outfit.
Source: Chapter 20, Line 37
“How much do you pay?” she demanded. “Must I pay now—right away?” “Yes; all my customers do.” “I—I haven’t much money,” Jurgis began in an agony of dread. “I’ve been in—in trouble—and my money is gone. But I’ll pay you—every cent—just as soon as I can; I can work—”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 12
“I have no place now. I must get one. But I—”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 17
“I’ve just been in jail,” Jurgis cried—he was ready to get down upon his knees to the woman—“and I had no money before, and my family has almost starved.”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 25
“They are all poor,” he answered. “They gave me this. I have done everything I can—”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 27
“I have nothing, I tell you—I have nothing,” he cried, frantically.
Source: Chapter 19, Line 29
“Listen to me—if you git me you vill be glad of it. I vill save your wife und baby for you, and it vill not seem like mooch to you in de end. If you loose dem now how you tink you feel den?”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 30
“You von’t find nobody go out on a rainy day like dis for less.”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 33
“It is not good to think of anybody suffering,” she said, in a melancholy voice.
Source: Chapter 19, Line 37
“Now,” she said, “you go away. Do as I tell you—you have done all you can, and you are only in the way. Go away and stay away.”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 48
“I’ve been in jail,” he said, “and I’ve just got out. I walked home all the way, and I’ve not a cent, and had nothing to eat since this morning. And I’ve lost my home, and my wife’s ill, and I’m done up.”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 53
“I can do noffing more—dere is no use to try.”
Source: Chapter 19, Line 75
Their sacrifices in the beginning, their three hundred dollars that they had scraped together, all they owned in the world, all that stood between them and starvation!
Source: Chapter 18, Line 50
Why, they had put their very souls into their payments on that house, they had paid for it with their sweat and tears—yes, more, with their very lifeblood.
Source: Chapter 18, Line 50
“A wild, horrible scream of anguish.”
Source: Chapter 18, Line 56
“We had no money—we have scarcely been able to keep alive.”
Source: Chapter 18, Line 77
“But I can work,” Jurgis exclaimed. “I can earn money!”
Source: Chapter 18, Line 78
“The children have not been home for three days, the weather has been so bad. They could not know what is happening—it came suddenly, two months before we expected it.”
Source: Chapter 18, Line 82
“and try and get somebody yourself. And maybe the rest can help—give him some money, you; he will pay you back some day, and it will do him good to have something to think about, even if he doesn’ t succeed. When he comes back, maybe it will be over.”
Source: Chapter 18, Line 85
“I thought I’d been up against ‘em all.
Source: Chapter 17, Line 22
“I see. You’re what’s called an honest workingman!”
Source: Chapter 17, Line 26
“He spoke like a man of education, like what the world calls a ‘gentleman.‘”
Source: Chapter 17, Line 33
“I’m here for disorderly conduct. They were mad because they couldn’t get any evidence.”
Source: Chapter 17, Line 35
“Young fellow had an amused contempt for Jurgis, as a sort of working mule; he, too, had felt the world’s injustice, but instead of bearing it patiently, he had struck back, and struck hard.”
Source: Chapter 17, Line 37
His story came out, not in the first day, nor the second, but in the long hours that dragged by, in which they had nothing to do but talk and nothing to talk of but themselves.
Source: Chapter 17, Line 38
This wasn’t a world in which a man had any business with a family; sooner or later Jurgis would find that out also, and give up the fight and shift for himself.
Source: Chapter 17, Line 38
“Maybe I could help you out of a hole some day”
Source: Chapter 17, Line 42
“I have a wife and baby, sir, and they have no money—my God, they will starve to death!”
Source: Chapter 17, Line 62
“You would have done well to think about them before you committed the assault,”
Source: Chapter 17, Line 63
“Yes, she’s been selling papers, too. She does best, because she’s a girl.
Source: Chapter 17, Line 86
“Mother hasn’t any work either, because the sausage department is shut down; and she goes and begs at houses with a basket, and people give her food.”
Source: Chapter 17, Line 86

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