The family works all summer and, in fall, Ona and Jurgis get married.
And of course, after all the cleaning up after the veselija, they find that all of their new acquaintances have left them a hundred dollars in debt (the feast that they thought would pay for itself).
Jurgis and Ona are crushed – this seems like a terrible beginning to their married life.
Jurgis can't stop noticing Ona, whom he thinks is too sensitive and good for this time of life.
Jurgis feels that he has failed Ona, and promises himself to work harder to protect her from the awful realities of their lives.
There are so many things that go wrong that they have absolutely no way to plan for: Ona gets caught in the drenching rain on her way to work one day (after failing to figure out how streetcars work) so she gets sick.
The children of the family keep getting sick. The family has no way of knowing that there is a cesspool under their house because there is no plumbing and no sewer line leading to their home.
Teta Elzbieta doesn't know what kind of medicines to buy in this new place.
And none of them recognize that their food has unknown additives and preservatives that aren't good for them.
They can't find anything of quality to buy – everything is cheap and poorly made.
The narrator cites a (slightly misquoted) line from Matthew Arnold's poem, "Modern Sappho" (which is about love and loss).
But the narrator points out that the kind of pathetic, ugly troubles that come with poverty don't make it into poetry. Poets don't even have a language to talk about the struggles that face people like Jurgis and Ona.
And then there is Antanas. The cellar where he works is not heated, so his cough is growing worse and worse.
The brining chemicals have also eaten through Antanas's boots, and have given him intense sores on his feet that won't heal.
The men he works with tell him that he has to quit – not only will the sores never heal, but if Antanas keeps walking around barefoot in the saltpeter (potassium nitrate), his toes will drop off.
Antanas refuses to quit, but his body can't handle the strain.
Antanas collapses one day, and he just can't get up again.
He coughs all day and all night, but he keeps hoping he will be well enough to get back to work the next morning.
But, finally, Antanas dies.
They are too poor to give him a proper funeral according to the old customs, even though Teta Elzbieta protests.
Now winter has come, with its bitter, biting winds. (After all, Chicago's nickname is the Windy City.)
The packing houses have long lines of poor men waiting outside, desperate for a job in these tough times. They fight and jostle for a place.
And getting around the city in the cold and snow is difficult.
The boy who works on the lard canning machine with Stanislovas comes out of the cold one day screaming in pain.
The men at the factory start rubbing him down quickly to warm him up.
But it only takes two or three rubs to break his ears right off, since they are frostbitten.
This gives Stanislovas a deadly fear of the cold.
Finally, he will only leave for work in the morning if Jurgis will take him through the snow.
Jurgis often has to carry him on his shoulders.
And since Stanislovas refuses to go home by himself, he will almost freeze to death waiting for Jurgis.
The killing beds are also unheated. The men who handle knives can't wear gloves, which numbs their hands and makes them more likely to have accidents.
What makes all of this so unpleasant is that there is nowhere to eat.
Jurgis has two choices: he can either eat his meals surrounded by the stench of the stockyards, or he can rush to a bar and eat there.
But you can't enter these bars without drinking, which means yet another expense.
The only thing that keeps Jurgis from getting drunk during these meals is thoughts of Ona. For her, he stays sober.
The house only has one small coal-burning stove for heat. The whole family has to huddle around it, including the children after they get home from school.
At night, they have to sleep in all of their clothes to try and keep warm.
The house has no insulation and is poorly built, so there are tons of drafts.
The cold is like a living thing trying to get in at them.
Their constant battle against the cold leaves them weaker day by day.