Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
CHAPTERS 25 - 26
Though freezing in the snow outside the Jones mansion, Jurgis is warmed by the thought of the hundred dollar bill in his pocket. The issue, however, is how to change this big bill. Jurgis decides to try his luck at a deserted saloon. The bartender, however, cheats him and puts up a pretense that Jurgis has given him only a dollar. Jurgis is enraged and tries to beat up the bartender. A brawl quickly develops, and a policeman arrives and beats Jurgis senseless. In court the next day, the judge dismisses Jurgis' story and accuses him of having been drunk. The saloon owner and the bartender are thugs, connected to the Democratic party. Jurgis is sentenced to ten days in jail plus court costs and once again finds himself in Bridewell. There, he meets the suave Jack Duane, his old friend. This time around, Jurgis tends to identify more with his fellow prisoners and makes up his mind to take up with Duane upon his release.
After his sentence is over, Jurgis meets Duane and the two become partners in petty crime. On their first job together they rob an insurance agent whose pockets yield a rich harvests of "swag." Later, through a newspaper report Jurgis learns that their victim suffered from a serious head injury and was so frozen when he was found that he would lose three fingers of his right hand. Duane quiets Jurgis' stirrings of conscience over this, saying that even if, as Jurgis insists, he never did them any harm, he was certainly "doing it to somebody as hard as he could."
Little by little, under Duane's guidance, Jurgis learns how politics, business and the underworld are intimately intertwined. Duane introduces Jurgis to Buck Halloran, an Irish politician. Through Halloran, Jurgis becomes part of a system where he impersonates phony "workers" on pay day and collects their wages, which he then passes on to Halloran. When Jurgis is arrested after a drunken brawl at a party, it is Halloran who gets him off the hook. One night, Duane and Jurgis commit a daring armed robbery. With the connivance of a bartender, they rob one of his customers, a traveling merchant who is drunk. They then escape through a secret door in the saloon's cellar that lead to a neighboring brothel. Through the Bartenders' good offices, Jurgis is introduced to a Jew who offers Jurgis and Duane tips on racing horses, in return for thrashing a gambler. Jurgis and his partner ultimately do not need to beat up the man, but do benefit from the racing tips. In the process, Jurgis also discovers a great deal about the powerful Racing Trust, which fixes the horse races.
Jurgis soon tires of the risks of a criminal career wants to turn to politics where there is easy money to be earned. In the ensuing city election, Jurgis becomes a Democrat, because Buck Halloran is one.
One night, Duane is caught cracking a safe in a clothing store and escapes with the help of a policeman friend. In the wake of public outrage, Duane is likely to be made an example of and, no longer able to count of buying protection, therefore skips town.
Around this time, Jurgis' chance to enter politics comes through Bush Harper, the same person who had offered Jurgis his naturalization papers. Harper is employed at Browns and works in the union as the packers' spy.
The stockyards are boiling over with rebellion, and talk of a strike is in the air. Harper is Mike Scully's henchman and is orchestrating a political sleight of hand for his master. Scully, a Democrat, is nominating a rich Jewish brewer for the post of alderman from his party. Scully, however, has a contract with the Republicans. They will nominate one of Scully's friends on their ticket and Scully will fund the Republican candidate's campaign with the Jewish brewer's money. In return, the Republicans will not put up a candidate at all during Scully's re-election as alderman the following year. Many of the stockyards' Democrats are unhappy with their party's candidate and Scully apprehends they may even vote for the Socialist Party's candidate.
Additionally, Scully does not trust the Republicans' capacity to gather votes. The Democratic boss therefore needs someone in the yards to orchestrate the Republican campaign. Jurgis is selected for this task and through Scully, who laughs off Jurgis' worries about the blacklist, gets hired as a hog trimmer at Durham's.
Jurgis works hard gathering support for the Republican candidate Doyle, drafting recruits to the newly-formed "Doyle Republican Association" and organizing propaganda gatherings. Jurgis is initially honest with the money he is given to work with, but later begins cheating when he realizes that others working with him want their share too and that he is making them look bad. On election day, Jurgis works hard, bringing emigrant workers to the booths and buying their votes, making a nice profit in the process. He himself votes six times. Doyle is elected by a wide margin, creating the impression that the working men have booted out a tyrannical "plutocrat," but they have been manipulated from the start.
Even after the elections, Jurgis keeps his job at Durham's. He now has three hundred dollars in the bank and is doing well. He Inquires about Elzbieta and the children and learns that they now live downtown. Jurgis does not attempt to look for them, however.
In the summer, the wage agreement between the packers and the union is due for renewal and the stockyards are once again seething with talk of a strike. When the packers refuse to accept the unions' demands, the union gives a strike call and sixty thousand men put down their tools and take to the streets. Jurgis approaches Scully for a job outside the yards during the strike but instead Scully proposes that Jurgis become a "scab," a strike- breaker.