Summary: Chapter 3

Jokubas takes the family on a tour of Packingtown. They are amazed to see pens packed with tens of thousands of cattle, pigs, and sheep. The suffering of the animals, which will all be killed by the end of the day, daunts even Jurgis’s optimism. But the flurry of human activity fills Jurgis with wonder. Jokubas notes sarcastically the signs regarding the sanitation rules. The government inspector who checks the slaughtered pigs for signs of tuberculosis often lets several carcasses go unchecked. Spoiled meat is specially doctored in secret before it is scattered among the rest of the meat in preparation for canning and packing.

Summary: Chapter 4

Jurgis begins his job of sweeping the entrails of slaughtered cattle through trap doors. Despite the stench, he is filled with optimism because he earns a little over two dollars for twelve hours of labor. There are more encouraging signs: Jonas has a lead on a job, and Marija obtains a job painting labels on cans for nearly two dollars a day. Jurgis refuses to allow Teta Elzbieta, Ona, or the children to work. He wants the children to go to school, especially thirteen-year-old Stanislovas. Dede Antanas has no luck finding a job because of his advanced age, and he begins to worry that he is a burden.

The family finds a paper advertising the sale of four-room homes for fifteen hundred dollars. Buyers need only pay three hundred dollars down and the monthly payment is twelve dollars. Ona, Marija, and Teta Elzbieta visit the real estate agent, a slick, well-dressed man who speaks Lithuanian. He tells them that the houses are going fast and that they must move quickly. Later, Ona quickly figures their budget, and it seems that they can make the payments. The entire family makes a trip to see the house. To their disappointment, it doesn’t look as new or big as the one in the advertisement. The basement and the attic aren’t completely finished. None of the other houses appear occupied. Jokubas later tells them the entire deal is probably a swindle.

Ona and Teta Elzbieta, accompanied by Jokubas, meet the agent to close the deal. Jokubas reads the contract and notices that it refers to the house as a “rental.” They get a lawyer but are dismayed to find that he is the agent’s friend. He tells them that everything is in order. Ona and Teta Elzbieta close the deal. Jurgis falls into a frenzy when he returns from work and hears the details. He grabs the deed and storms out to find a lawyer, who explains that the house is merely a rental until the purchase price is paid; the house is called a rental to make it easier to evict people who fail to make the monthly payments. Pacified, Jurgis returns home.

Summary: Chapter 5

The family purchases household necessities and settles happily into their home. The pace of work in the slaughterhouse is demanding, but Jurgis doesn’t mind; he even enjoys it. He is surprised to find that everyone else hates their jobs and their bosses. Jurgis thinks that they are merely lazy and refuses to join the union, which is lobbying for a reduction in the pace of work.

One man promises Dede Antanas a job in exchange for one-third of his wages. Jurgis speaks to a friend and coworker, Tamoszius Kuszleika, about this practice. Tamoszius explains that corruption exists everywhere in Packingtown. From the top to bottom in the chain of power, people take advantage of one another. It is impossible to move ahead without taking part in the web of graft and corruption. Despite having to sacrifice a third of his wages, Antanas takes the job. He informs the family that he helps pack filthy meat for human consumption.