[A] population . . . dependent for its opportunities . . . upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers.See Important Quotations Explained
Jurgis demands that the agent who sold his family the house reveal all of its hidden expenses. The agent explains that they must pay seven dollars a year for insurance, ten dollars a year in taxes, and six dollars a year for water. He adds that if the city chooses to install a sewer and a sidewalk, they would have to pay between thirty-seven and forty-seven dollars.
Spring arrives and with it come frequent cold rains and mud. In the summer, the factories are infernos. Moreover, legions of flies descend on Packingtown, attracted by the blood and meat. Marija regains her job at the can painting factory, only to lose it two months later. She is fired when she vocally protests being cheated out of a portion of her wages. The loss of her income is devastating to the family because Ona is now expecting Jurgis’s child. It takes Marija a month to find work as a beef trimmer. The boss hires her because she is as strong as a man while her wages are half of a man’s.
Ona’s supervisor, Miss Henderson, the superintendent’s jilted mistress, runs a brothel. Her prostitutes get jobs easily in Ona’s department. She hates Ona because she is a decent married woman and her toadies make Ona miserable.
Ona gives birth to a healthy boy. She and Jurgis name him Antanas after Jurgis’s father. Jurgis is seized with an overpowering affection for his child and his commitment to his role as a family man grows in consequence. But his long work hours prevent him from seeing his son very much. Ona returns to work a week after giving birth, and her health suffers badly.
The Packingtown laborers are worked at an ever greater speed only to see their wages cut numerous times. Marija opens a bank account for her savings. One morning she discovers that there is a run on the bank. She waits for two days in the line before she can withdraw her money. In truth, her fear is unfounded: an attempt by a policeman to arrest a drunk at the saloon next to the bank drew a crowd, and people who saw the crowd believed that there was a run on the bank, so they hurried to withdraw their money. Marija sews her savings into her clothing, which now weighs her down so that she fears sinking into the mud in the street.
Jurgis sprains his ankle and cannot return to work for almost three months. The frustration eats away at him and he often vents his bitterness upon his family. His infant son is often the only way for him to return to good humor. Stanislovas suffers frostbite in his hands, and the first joints on his fingers are permanently damaged. Jurgis often has to beat Stanislovas in order to make him go to work on snowy mornings.