Chapter 18 Summary

Jurgis patiently counts the thirty days until he is released. When the thirty days are up, he finds that he is still in prison. He learns that he must pay court costs for the privilege of being sent to jail. He has no money, so he must serve another three days.

When he is finally released, Jurgis is sent out into a recent heavy snow without a coat (he did not wear one when he rushed out of the house to get Connor). He had enough to eat in prison, and the work was the easiest he had ever done. It is raining and he has no idea in which direction his home lies. He asks a boy where the stockyards are, and the boy sends him in the wrong direction. Jurgis reaches the city limits and finds himself in a rural area. He stops a passing farmer for directions and learns that he must turn around and go back the way he came. When Jurgis returns to the city, the streets are treacherous with sleet and snow. His feet are sodden with slush. He finds a policeman and asks directions; he still has five miles to go. He jumps on a streetcar and reaches his street. When he arrives at his home, he is confused because the house has been repainted and repaired. A boy comes out the door, and Jurgis demands to know where his family is. The boy’s mother comes out and explains that the house is brand new. She begins to realize that the agent has hoodwinked them and tells Jurgis that she does not know where his family is.

Jurgis goes to Grandmother Majauszkiene’s home. She tells him that his family was thrown out for nonpayment. They are now at Aniele Jukniene’s, the place where they first lodged on arriving in Chicago. Jurgis is sick with grief that they have lost their home after putting so much of their hard-earned money into it. When he arrives at Aniele’s, he finds the kitchen filled with women. He hears screams and knows they are Ona’s. Marija, whose arm is in a sling, tells him not to go to Ona. Jurgis rushes upstairs but is held back. Ona is giving birth prematurely. There is no money for a doctor. All of them are out of work, and even Aniele is starving. They take a collection and manage to get a dollar and a quarter. Jurgis goes out to find a doctor who will help Ona.