While visiting his aunt Anna in Donora, Dobie discusses the upcoming election and the almost certain defeat of the long-reigning Republicans. Anna is working for the Democratic Party just for “the satisfaction of beating the Republicans.” Dobie is enthused by Anna’s passionate political opinions. “What did they ever do for the working people?” she asks, “all through the depression they haven't done anything to help anybody except the big banks and corporations.” Agnes soon arrives and asks what the fuss is about before she sets the table for dinner. After dinner, Dobie goes to see Julie.
Dobie has already awakened to how American politics directly affects his status as a steelworker, but his aunt Anna’s passion for the Democratic Party’s adds a new layer of awareness to the important role political activism plays for those hoping to make the American Dream a reality for themselves.
Dobie jokingly comments on Julie’s thinness before bringing up the subject of his grandfather, Kracha. Dobie tells her about Kracha’s life, especially his tendency not to put his money in banks, which seems wise in hindsight. After living with his sister, Francka, for several years, Kracha had run out of money and Francka demanded that he pay board. When he was unable to get a company pension, Francka stuck him in a coal shed and “kept him drunk” on her homemade moonshine. “I don't know what the record for being drunk is but I'll bet Dzedo broke it,” Dobie jokes. He suggests that Francka was trying to make her brother drink himself to death, as he had outlived his usefulness to her.
That Kracha’s own sister makes a not-so-subtle attempt to murder him is perhaps a fitting reversal of roles in the novel. Kracha has been abusive, domineering, and dismissive towards the women in his life while simultaneously demanding that women take care of him. Francka, however, has always been willing to stand up to him and, in this passage, is even willing to exact revenge on him through alcohol poisoning. This story shows how dismissive treatment of women ultimately has negative consequences for everyone—including men.
Kracha, however, had soldiered on, and Francka sent him to Woodville, where he somewhat recovered. From there, he ended up in Perovsky’s hotel with Dobie, where he was waiting to get his pension. It turns out that after fleeing Homestead for Braddock, Kracha gave the Braddock company a phony name to avoid any association with the strikers, which explained why the company had no record to judge his pension application. Kracha, however, could not remember the name he used. Luckily, Dorta remembered that Kracha had picked the name “Lupcha,” and when he submitted the name to the company, they approved his pension.
As Bell previously revealed through Frank’s unfortunate state of unemployment, blacklisting is an effective tactic the steel company uses to punish workers it believes have participated in strikes. While Kracha actively avoided any association with striking workers (especially since he was unable to join the union anyway), his mere presence in Homestead during the historic strike is grounds for suspicion. His elaborate method for avoiding the blacklist demonstrates his occasional foresight, as well as the extent to which the steel companies exert control over laborers’ lives.
After telling Julie the long saga of Kracha’s life, Dobie informs her that his grandfather is now living with him. He tells Julie that the mills are bound to open again, and he suggests that they get married in June. Julie wonders how they can afford to get married then. In response, Dobie proposes allowing Kracha—and his pension—to move in with them. “He's all right, Julie. He wouldn't be any trouble,” Dobie explains. He reaches into his pocket and gives Julie the signet engagement ring that Mary gave to him before she went to the sanitarium. After the formal engagement, Julie and Dobie go for a walk.
Here, something as simple as deciding on a wedding date nonetheless reveals how different factors shape and constrict the realization of the American Dream for people like Julie and Dobie. Already dependent on the whims of the mills for their regular survival, the couple must now contend with a Depression that has no end it site. This reality threatens to thrust the American Dream further into the realm of unattainable myth. Meanwhile, Dobie’s gifting of his mother’s engagement ring to Julie again ties multiples generations of immigrants together through a common symbol.