The author accomplishes two purposes in going into detail about the wedding recounted in the first chapter. First of all, he uses the occasion to introduce and develop the personalities of the narrative's central characters, Jurgus Rudkus and Ona Lukoszaite, as well as important members of their families. Having recently immigrated to America from Lithuania, Jurgus is confident that he will do well in his adopted homeland, and hopeful that life will not be as hard here as it was in his native land.
The wedding also gives the author also a chance to acquaint the reader with the history of Jurgus's family, detailing the beginnings of the courtship between Jurgus and Ona in the old country and also the financial setbacks they experienced there during that time, thus setting up the background for one of the central themes in the novel. Having started with nothing, the family is on an extremely tight budget, and, unfamiliar with the intricacies of buying and selling in the economic system, they are quickly duped into taking on more debt than they can comfortably handle. Unemployment is their greatest fear, and every able-bodied member of the group must work to make ends meet. Due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, the family becomes dependent on Ona's job at the meat packing plant, so she must endure conditions there no matter how difficult they become.