Chapter 24 Summary

In the midst of the freezing weather, Jurgis rambles from place to place, trying to find sufficient lodgings for the night. He is allowed to stay in saloons only so long as he buys drinks; eventually he is kicked out. There are many homeless men this winter, and there is stiff competition for warm places to sleep. One evening, Jurgis sees a figure in a blue coat approaching him. He fears being arrested, so he ducks down a street and runs into a drunken, well-dressed, young man called Freddie Jones. He explains to Jurgis that his girlfriend has thrown him out and now he is on his way home. Freddie says his family is away, and they have left him very little money. He invites Jurgis to come home with him. He tells Jurgis to stop a cab and he will pay the fare. He gives Jurgis a hundred dollar bill, telling him to pay the cab with it and keep the change. He had removed the bill from a large roll. Jurgis considers stealing it, but he has not yet committed theft and does not intend to start now.

Jurgis hails a cab and climbs in, though the driver initially stops him. Freddie insists that Jurgis is with him and gives the driver and address on Lake Shore Drive (the wealthy residential section of Chicago). Freddie falls asleep against Jurgis, who considers again the possibility of removing the money roll from Freddie’s pocket. The cab drives up to a huge mansion.

A butler named Hamilton opens the door and lets Freddie and Jurgis in. He gives Jurgis a severe look, but Freddie insists that Jurgis is to be allowed in. He invites Jurgis into the dining room, where a large table is set with food. Jurgis has never seen so much food in his life. Despite Hamilton’s disapproval, Freddie sits down and commands that Hamilton seat Jurgis. Hamilton holds out the chair for Jurgis, but Jurgis thinks he is holding it to keep Jurgis out of it. When he finally understands, he sits and food is set before him. Freddie sends the servants out of the room and then falls asleep. Jurgis is unable to hold back any longer at the sight of all the food and ravenously consumes everything in reach. Hamilton returns and orders Jurgis to leave. He intends to search Jurgis’s pockets, but Jurgis tells him that if he touches him, he will knock him down. As Jurgis leaves, Hamilton kicks him down the stairs into the snow.