Life in the Iron Mills begins with an omniscient narrator who looks out a window and sees smog and iron workers. The gender of the narrator is never known, but it is evident that the narrator is a middle class observer. As the narrator looks out the windowpane, an old story comes to mind; a story of the house that the narrator is living in. The narrator cautions the reader to have an objective mind, and to not be quick to judge the character in the story he/she is about to tell the reader. The narrator begins to introduce Deborah, Wolfe's cousin. She is described as a meek woman who works hard, and has a hump in her back. Deborah finds out from Janey, that Hugh did not take lunch to work, and she decides to walk many miles in the rain to take a lunch for Wolfe.