Discuss the significant functions of the wedding scene.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The wedding scene operates on a couple of levels.  The first would be that it is representative of the life in the "old country," where community, solidarity, and a sense of people being treated as ends in of themselves as opposed to a means to an end is evident.  There is a strong sense of identity that is shared by everyone in the wedding scene.  Sinclair devotes so much time to it as a contrast to the isolated and atomized condition that Jugis and Ona endure in Packingtown.  Another reason why it is present is to suggest that the shortage of money is a reality that is universal.  Ona is shocked to discover that they will be in debt as a result of the wedding and that people came to enjoy the food and spirits of the wedding without little in way of reciprocity in terms of money.  This financial hardship is established from the outset of the wedding and is reflective of what both Jurgis and Ona endure throughout the narrative.  I think that the final purpose of the wedding scene is to bring to light how Jurgis believes in the need to "work harder" and that his faith in the opportunity ideology is what establishes his own being cheated and manipulated.  It is this part of his character that will become refined and changed as the narrative flows from the wedding scene.


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