Chapter 19 Summary

Jurgis arrives at the home of Madame Haupt, a German midwife. She is fixing her dinner when Jurgis enters. She is overweight, unhealthy, and filthy. Jurgis is overwrought and has difficulty making her understand what he wants. She explains that she has just come back from a case and has had nothing to eat all day. He begs her to come help Ona. Madame Haupt tells him her fee is twenty-five dollars. His hopes fail; he tells her all he has is a dollar twenty-five. She explodes, telling him that she would not put on her hat for that amount. He rashly promises to get her the rest, but she doubts this when she learns that he has just been released from prison and has no job, and he has no friends from whom he could borrow the money. Jurgis promises to pay her the rest of the money within the month.

When Jurgis and Madame Haupt arrive at the house, chaos is still pouring from the attic. Madame Haupt exclaims at the prospect of climbing up a ladder into an attic. She expresses contempt for people that would put a pregnant woman into such a desolate place to give birth. As Madame Haupt climbs the ladder, Marija tells Jurgis that he must leave.

Jurgis does not know where to go, and he finds himself at the saloon. The saloon keeper senses that Jurgis has reached the end of his rope and gives him some whiskey. Soon, as Jurgis warms up, the saloon keeper tells him he will have to leave the bar because of the smell of fertilizer that still saturates his skin. He places Jurgis in a back room for the night, but Jurgis cannot sleep. When all is quiet, Jurgis awakens the saloon keeper to tell him that he wants to go home. The saloon keeper is surprised; he thought Jurgis had no home to go to.

When Jurgis arrives at Aniele’s house, all is ominously quiet. Madame Haupt comes down, berating them for taking up so much of her time on such a hopeless case. The baby is dead and Ona will soon be dead as well. Overcome with grief, Jurgis rushes up to the attic. Ona opens her eyes once with a brief look of recognition and dies. Jurgis goes downstairs. He encounters Kotrina, who has just returned from selling her newspapers. Jurgis asks her how much money she has, and she shows him the three dollars she has earned. He takes it from her, goes back to the saloon, and demands a bottle of whiskey, intending to get drunk.