The Jungle: Character Profiles
Ona, Jurgis and their family all stay at Aniele’s squalid home when they first arrive in Packingtown. After losing their home, they have to return here for lodgings.
Antanas (Dede Antanas)
Dede Antanas is the father of Jurgis. He dies from the effects of working in the pickle rooms.
As Ona’s boss, Connor has power over her. He abuses this position and blackmails Ona into having sex with him. When she finally reveals this to Jurgis, Jurgis beats Connor and is then imprisoned. Jurgis is not believed when he tries to explain why he did it. Later in the novel it transpires that Connor is well thought of by Mike Scully.
Elzbieta (Teta Elzbieta)
Elzbieta is Ona’s widowed stepmother and is the mother of six young children.
Jurgis works for Harper as a tool break the strikes in the stockyards. Harper’s untrustworthiness is highlighted when he fails to support Jurgis fully after being arrested for beating Connor (the second time).
Jurgis meets Jack in prison. He is a safe-cracker and thief and Jurgis chooses to work in conjunction with him to commit violent crimes later in the novel.
Jonas is Ona’s brother and comes with the family when they move to the United States. He is a minor character and barely appears in the novel. He leaves the family after the continuing struggle to survive on barely any money.
Jurgis and his family are at the center of this novel. His initial innocence and desire to work when he first arrives in the United States (from Lithuania) is in sharp contrast to his later descent into bitterness and corruption. His story of being crushed by work and hunger helps to flesh out this novel’s criticism of the effects of capitalism. His later new found faith in socialism gives the novel closure.
Jokubas runs a local delicatessen and shows the family around Packingtown on their arrival in the United States.
This is the son of Ona and Jurgis. His untimely death from drowning in the street crushes Jurgis and is the catalyst for him leaving his family behind.
This is Ona’s cousin and is a strong, determined character in the initial stages of the novel. The effects of grinding poverty may be measured in her later addiction to morphine and the necessity of working as a prostitute.
Scully is the corrupt and influential local Democrat politician.
Ona is the young wife of Jurgis. She dies whilst giving birth to their second child.
Ostrinski helps to explain to Jurgis how socialism works. Jurgis is introduced to him after the meeting in which the orator convinces him (Jurgis) that freedom is attainable through socialist practices.
This is one of the sons of Elzbieta. He pretends to be two years older so that he can work in Packingtown and assist the family. He becomes fearful of the snow after developing terrible frostbite and Jurgis beats him in order to force him to leave the house to earn a little money. Jurgis learns at the end of the novel that he died after being accidentally locked in a factory and was eaten by rats.
Tamoszius is a minor character, but appears intermittently in the early chapters of the novel. He plays the violin at Ona and Jurgis’s wedding celebration and is later engaged to Marija. After losing a finger, he leaves Marija and goes away as he is no longer able to play.