Summary and Analysis Chapter 18



After serving additional time in prison to cover the court costs, Jurgis is released. He returns to his house to find it painted and someone else living there.

An Irishwoman tells him that she recently bought the house. Grandmother Majauszkiene tells Jurgis that his family has returned to the Widow Jukniene's. He races there, finding many women huddled in the kitchen, and is assailed by Ona's screams. Marija explains that her baby has come early and they have no money for a midwife. The women together scrounge up their money, give it to Jurgis, and tell him to search for someone.


Jurgis and his family are just one of many in the vicious cycle of abuse which comprises life in Packingtown. Chapter 18 exists mostly to bridge one part of Jurgis' life to the next. Walking the wrong way after being released from prison illustrates the fact that Jurgis is directionless and clueless, yet still does not know to whom he should listen.

Arriving at his house, he finds that what he considered his own is, in reality, not his. Another family has been swindled, just as Jurgis had been. Both his house and his family are gone. Losing his house not only symbolizes the lost American dream, it foreshadows Jurgis' loss of Ona.

When he arrives to find Ona having an early and difficult delivery, readers know that this birth will not be a happy occasion and that Ona will probably die.


vitals organs necessary for human life, such as the heart, brain, and lungs, etc.

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