Jurgis start his new job, sweeping up entrails on the "killing beds" where cattle are slaughtered. Jonas has had several interviews and Marija gets a job painting cans in the canning factory, which she is very excited about. Jurgis is insistent that Ona and the children should not have to work and the children should go to school. Jurgis's father, Dede Antanas, also wants to work, but it is nearly impossible for a man of his age to find a job in Packingtown.
The immigrant family is still very hopeful about their prospects at the plant. They are earnest and hard-working, and even the older father wants to contribute. As the young man of the family, Jurgis believes he should be able to support Ona and the children, and he wants the children to be educated so they can have better lives. They believe that if they work hard they will succeed. They believe in the "American Dream."
Jurgis brings home a shiny flyer advertising new homes for sale. The family decides they will be better off buying a house than continuing to pay rent for their squalid flat. They calculate that with their small savings and the wages of Jurgis, Jonas and Marija, they will be able to afford a home.
The advertisement lures the naïve immigrant family and takes advantage of their dream of owning their own home.
Marija, Ona, and Teta Elzbieta go to inquire about the houses for sale. The agent tricks them into thinking there is only one house left, and they make plans to visit it. The family goes to visit the house, which is several miles away. The house is not very nice and does not look new, but the persuasive agent talks about all the good qualities of the house and gives them little chance to ask questions. The family struggles to decide whether they should buy the home or continue renting. Jokubas warns them that they might be swindled, but in the end Jurgis decides for the family that they should buy a house.
The fast-talking agent represents the corruption and dishonesty brought about by capitalism in American society. The agent manipulates the immigrant family, who, in their hopefulness, overlook the obvious flaws of the house. As the man of the house, Jurgis believes it is his responsibility to decide what is best for the family, but he mistakes his willingness to act as man of the house as an ability to make wise decisions in situations that are beyond his understanding.
When they contact the agent, he tells them the house is still available and to come in the next day to sign the papers. Jurgis can't go because he has to work, so Ona, Teta Elzbieta, and Jokubas go to sign the papers. They are terrified of being cheated of their only savings. Jokubas reads the papers slowly while the agent taps his fingers. It appears that the lease is just to rent, not buy, the home, and the family insists on finding a lawyer. They go find a lawyer but the lawyer seems to know the agent, causing them more consternation. The lawyer tells them that everything is fine, and with much agony and uncertainty, Teta Elzbieta signs the papers and gives the agent the family's precious savings. When they get home, Jurgis is convinced they have been cheated so he frantically goes to find another lawyer, but the lawyer assures him that the lease is legitimate.
The family is rightfully concerned about being cheated and losing their only savings. They try their best to defend themselves, but, the entire system seems constructed to trick and cheat them. Feeling trapped and desperate, they eventually succumb to the pressure of the agent. This is partly due to their cultural heritage and their desire to not seem disrespectful to a "gentleman". Though they try to protect themselves, they become victims of corrupt forces. Corruption is so pervasive that is hard to find a trustworthy lawyer. The lawyers and salesmen are both out to make a profit, even if it causes others suffering.