Chapter 3 Summary

Jokubas knows a policeman employed by the Durham meatpacking house who might be able to arrange for jobs for some of the new immigrants. Jurgis is sure he can get a job on his own, which he does after standing in line at the packing house door for only half an hour. Jokubas talks to the policeman and is encouraged by his assurance that jobs will be found.

Jokubas takes his friends on a tour of the meatpacking house. He brags that every part of the pig except the squeal is used. He leads them through the enormous cattle pens, where cows of all ages, sizes, and colors can be found. Pigs are also there. Among the livestock are men on horseback, who ride through the herds and drive them up to the loading ramps. The group of visitors follows the pigs inside, where they are lined up to the slaughter. One man attaches a chain around one foot of the pig, which is lifted squealing up into the air. The pig’s throat is cut, and it is moved on down the line. After the blood has drained, the head is cut off and pushed down a hole in the floor. The carcass is dipped in boiling water. A line of men cuts off the bristles and then cuts the body down the middle. Another worker cuts through the sternum. Next its insides are removed and shoved down another hole in the floor. The legs are cut off, and then the body is put into a chilling room for twenty-four hours. The meat cutters remove the frozen carcass and slice the meat into sections, which will be sent all over the world. The men laugh nervously but the women are clearly horrified—even moved to tears—by the butchery of the pigs.

The cattle receive the same treatment, though the workers save the hides to be tanned. There is also a Jewish priest, who is present to validate that kosher methods are used to prepare the meet. In other places, cans are prepared for the lard, boxes are made for the soap, bristles are used for seat cushions, hooves are used for glue, horns are made into buttons, and so on. Each part of the animal is used for something, with what remains is made into fertilizer. Jokubas is cynical about the whole process. Jurgis is enthralled; he is amazed at the efficiency and feels proud that he is now part of all this.