Chapter 30 Summary

After Jurgis has breakfast with Ostrinski and his family, he goes to Elzbieta’s home. He does not speak about his past misdeeds and guilt; he only talks of his newfound purpose in Socialism. At first Elzbieta thinks Jurgis has lost his mind, but she eventually believes that his insanity is confined to his political views. She is impervious to his Socialist arguments. At last she agrees to go to some meetings, but she does not countenance paying dues to the Socialist Party.

For a week, Jurgis wanders the streets of Chicago, trying to find a job. On a whim, he enters a hotel and asks if they have any work for him. When the manager asks what he can do, Jurgis states that he is able to do anything requested. He assures the manager that he does not drink. The manager explains that he fired his current porter seven times for drinking and has decided that he has reached his limit. He warns Jurgis that the work is hard. It pays thirty dollars a month, along with board. Jurgis accepts the job and begins immediately. When he later tells Ostrinski where he is working, Ostrinski tells him that the manager is Tommy Hinds, one of the best Socialist speakers and party leaders in the nation. The next morning, Jurgis tells Mr. Hinds that he is a Socialist. Hinds greets this news with relief; he had been worried that he had just fired a good Socialist and hired a capitalist.

Hinds started as a blacksmith’s helper. When he joined the Union army in the Civil War, he became acquainted with graft for the first time. When he went into business after the war, he was in competition with companies with shady business practices. In the South, laborers were mostly convicts, which led to lower prices. The businesses in the North, especially in Massachusetts where Hinds was from, were not able to compete with them. This situation led Hinds to join the Socialist Party.

Jurgis meets more Socialists and begins to read whatever material he can find that supports the Socialist ideology. Hinds has him speak to other possible Socialist candidates. At first Jurgis struggles to tell his story, but with practice he becomes an ardent speaker. At Packingtown, more and more of the workers learn of Socialism and become followers. This causes difficulties for Mike Scully, the Democratic boss, because he is left with few followers to support his party. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans hold the hearts and minds of the workingmen of Chicago like the Socialist Party does.