Teta Elzbieta's crippled child Kristoforas dies, and the family can barely afford a funeral. Elzbieta is the only one who is upset by his death.
Packingtown is a grinding, merciless place, and those that wish to survive cannot even pause to grieve for their dead.
Jurgis considers his last resort, which is working in the fertilizer plant, described as a kind of hell. He gets a job shoveling fertilizer into carts, working in a sand storm of fertilizing dust that fills every pore of his being. He becomes ill and hardly makes it through his first day, but eventually he adjusts.
Jurgis's desperation to make a living for himself and his family forces him to take miserable work. His willingness to stick with his awful job is a testament to his perseverance and devotion to his family.
The children working in the city begin to take on city ways and not come home at night. It is decided they should go back to school and Teta Elzbieta will get a job while 13-year-old Kotrina will take care of the baby and household. Elzbieta gets a job standing motionless all day operating a sausage machine, a job which is as hard for her as Jurgis's job in the fertilizer plant.
Conditions grow still more miserable for the family, yet the adults' devotion to their children is strong enough that they will endure mind-numbing work to support the family. At the same time, the fact that the adults will put themselves in such situations for their children supports the idea that the world of Packingtown is so exploitative and cruel that it actually makes devotion to a family impossible—trying to maintain a family literally destroys the adults of that family.