The bosses increase speed of work at the factory while paying less. Jurgis learns that a firm, the Beef Trust, controls the industry.
Workers are powerless to resist inhumane treatment, while a distant, faceless power controls their industry.
Marija invests her money in a bank and joins a run on the bank. She misses a couple days of work and withdraws her money and sews it into her clothing. It turns out the run was caused by a policeman arresting a drunk.
The family continues to learn that they can depend on nobody but themselves. Even institutions designed to protect the immigrants' money, such as the bank, turn out to be unreliable.
Winter returns, and the family's struggle for survival intensifies. Jurgis sprains his ankle on the killing beds and is unable to work, causing the family great financial stress. Ona begins to secretly withdraw money from the bank so that the family does not starve. Jurgis lies in bed in anguish and fear. His only relief is his son Antanas.
Life in Packingtown is precarious, and there is no safety net for the unlucky: a small, random accident like Jurgis's sprained ankle is enough to send the family into a downward spiral. Fortunately, Jurgis's devotion to his family makes his life worth living.