Chapter 25 Summary

Jurgis feels humiliated by Hamilton’s treatment, but he is appeased when he remembers that he still has the hundred-dollar bill Freddie Jones gave him. He realizes he will have difficulty changing it because people will assume he stole it. He goes into a saloon and asks the bartender to change it for him. The bartender says he will exchange it if Jurgis buys a drink. Jurgis buys a five-cent beer, and the bartender gives him ninety-five cents in change. A fight breaks out, and Jurgis once again finds himself in court appearing before a judge. The bartender claims that Jurgis gave him a one-dollar bill. When the judge learns that Jurgis has been in jail before, he sends him back to prison for ten days.

While in jail, Jurgis again encounters Jack Duane. As Jurgis talks to Duane and the other prisoners, he decides that he cannot survive in Chicago by being honest. He agrees to meet with Jack once they are released from prison. When Jurgis gets out, he visits Jack in the back of a pawnbroker’s shop, which is a central location for fencing stolen goods. Jack takes Jurgis on his first crime, mugging a well-to-do gentleman. Jack splits the “take” with Jurgis, giving him fifty-five dollars. The next morning, they read about the crime in the papers. The victim has suffered a concussion and lost three fingers from exposure. Jurgis feels guilty, but he soon gets over this. He fully enters a life of crime.

When Jack is forced to leave town because a scandal erupts over the culpability of the police, Jurgis meets Harper, who buys votes for the corrupt political machines. He introduces Jurgis to Mike Scully, who convinces Jurgis to return to the packing house and work from the inside. When Jurgis explains that he has been blacklisted, Scully assures him that this will be taken care of. Jurgis is rehired and earns honest wages as well as the graft of the political world.

Jurgis works hard to win support for the Republican candidate, who has made a deal with the Democratic Scully. On election day, Jurgis buys votes—and makes three hundred dollars for himself. When the Republican candidate wins, Jurgis goes on a drinking spree. Packingtown is the scene of wild celebration because they have managed to elect someone who will support their interests.