Jurgis's sentence lasts longer than he anticipates, because he must repay the costs of his imprisonment by breaking stone for three more days. When he is finally released, he must walk miles to the stockyards, penniless and chilled to the bone.
Forcing Jurgis to repay the costs of his imprisonment is a particularly insulting—and inconvenient—indignity. It also highlights the nature of the exploitation of the immigrant workers—they are not only worked to the bone, but the very industry that works them to death actually seeks to profit from them, to pay them as little as possible and to extract as much money from them as possible.
After hours of trudging through the city, Jurgis arrives home, only to discover that another family has refurbished and moved into his house. Dismayed, Jurgis goes down the block to Grandmother Majauszkiene's house, who tells Jurgis that his family has gone back to stay in Aniele Jukniene's tenement.
The family's eviction pushes them still further from the vision of the future they once held. They are back in the mangy boarding house they originally inhabited upon reaching Chicago.
Jurgis thinks of all the money that the family had sunk into their house and panics. He curses the extortive real estate agent that took advantage of his family, and laments the exploitative society that has rendered him powerless.
The deception that cost Jurgis's family their home is markedly different from the treatment they expected to receive in this country, and Jurgis's disillusionment worsens. He had thought his strength and willingness to work would be enough in America, but now sees that such strength is nothing at all compared to the corrupt forces of society.
Jurgis arrives at the tenement to hear Ona in agony—she is in the throes of premature childbirth. Over Ona's screaming, Marija somberly explains that a doctor or midwife would cost tens of dollars—much more than the family can afford. The house is full of concerned women, who offer Jurgis the change in their pocketbooks, which adds up to only $1.25. Jurgis takes the money and runs off in search of medical help.
At this point, it seems that even nature itself is conspiring against the Rudkus family, though it's also certainly likely that Ona's premature labor was brought on by the fact that she had to work so hard with no rest and no medical attention during her pregnancy. And any help society might offer is out of reach to the impoverished immigrants.