The family continues to encounter adversity and Jurgis discovers more hidden costs in the lease. Ona is pregnant and Jurgis wants to save money for a doctor. Winter is over but spring and summer bring their own trials, such as flooded streets and swarms of flies.
The deception Jurgis finds in real estate shows that everyone in Chicago seems to act in his or her own self interest, without regard for whomever is wronged in the process.
Marija loses her job in the canning factory because she is headstrong and complains to the superintendent about being cheated of her wages. After much searching, she eventually gets a job trimming beef, typically a man's job. She loses faith in the union.
The family is met with unfairness at every turn. As Marija's firing demonstrates, the unjust system is too powerful to be challenged by a single laborer. And yet, the union too seems powerless to protect her.
Ona is also disliked and mistreated by her forelady, Miss Henderson. She learns that Miss Henderson and the other girls dislike her because she is a decent, married girl. Miss Henderson, on the other hand, is a mistress and lives in a brothel downtown that some of the other girls go to in order to make extra money as prostitutes.
Ona's embittered, worn-down coworkers show the toll that factory work exacts on its laborers. Her coworkers actively dislike her for not ye being beaten down herself. The despair caused by the industry causes the workers to turn on each other rather than on the owners.
Ona gives birth to a baby boy, Antanas. The baby renews Jurgis's devotion to his family. Ona has to go back to work promptly and only loses a week of wages. From then on, she suffers from "womb trouble," headaches and pains that are common among women in Packingtown.
Antanas's birth renews the familial bond. However, Packingtown's unnatural, cruel environment quickly interrupts this tenderness by abruptly forcing Ona back to work in a shockingly short amount of time.