In contrast to Jurgis and her stepdaughter Ona, Teta Elzbieta is not young; she is a mother of six living children and is nearing old age at the start of the novel. Where Jurgis has energy, Teta Elzbieta has inner strength; where he has faith in his work ethic, she has a commitment to her home and family. Throughout the novel, she represents the strength of family and traditions of the old country. For this reason, as the novel progresses, Teta Elzbieta gradually emerges as one of its strongest and most important characters. Forced to endure innumerable privations, from the disappearance of her brother Jonas to the deaths of two of her own children and her stepdaughter Ona, Teta Elzbieta remains steady and strong. She is willing to work when the family needs her to, but her real place is in the home, and her transition into the world outside it represents another powerful blow to the family. At the end of the novel, however, she has quietly weathered the worst of the storm and is able to survive with the fragments of her family around her. Pragmatic rather than stubborn, she accepts Jurgis back into the family after his long abandonment because he can provide for the family. Her experiences dealing with adversity have molded her outlook such that she judges Jurgis and his new socialist politics based on his and their immediate benefit to the family.