The same morning that the Count looks for Mishka’s letter, Nina and her comrades board a train headed for Ivanovo in order to help increase agricultural production. But to pave the way for their efforts, a million kulaks (wealthier peasants) had been exiled because they resisted collectivization. They had been deemed enemies of the common good, but they were also the region’s most capable farmers. The remaining peasants were skeptical of innovation and unskilled in agriculture. The combination of these forces and uncooperative weather meant that millions of peasants would starve to death in Ukraine.
This development in the Russian agricultural provinces becomes one of the larger travesties brought about by the Bolsheviks. Believing the wealthier peasants to be anti-socialist, they are then exiled, resulting in a massive famine and widespread starvation. Thus, the rigidity of their ideals results in them hurting the very people that they had meant to champion—poor, working peasants.
A footnote states that Nina and many other young loyalists would have their faith in the Party tested by what they saw. Most of Russia and the rest of the world, however, would not know what had happened, because journalists would be forbidden to enter the countryside, mail was suspended, and train windows were blackened. In fact, a New York Times journalist would deny rumors of the famine and go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage.
Nina will have a difficult time adapting to this “progress” made by the Bolshevik party, and while the narrator reveals here that her faith in the Party will be tested, she also disappears into Siberia as a result. Thus, anyone at odds with this society’s ideals is forced completely out of it.
But at the time, when Nina’s train arrives in the fields of Ivanovo, she is overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape and is struck by the feeling that her life has begun.
While it is true, as Marina and the Count had predicted, that life finds Nina, its fated purpose for her is seemingly tragic rather than hopeful.
Sofia asks the Count if he is awake. He responds that he is awake now. She tells him that she left her doll in Marina’s room.
The narrator slips in one final detail to demonstrate that the Count has a lot to adjust to while learning to parent.
On June 23, Andrey is riding the bus after paying a visit to Sofia. He stops at the market for some groceries and then returns to his small third-floor apartment. His wife, he knows, is not there; she is waiting at the new milk store that has opened at a decommissioned church. It became popular because at the back of the church there was a mosaic of Christ that no one had dismantled, and people went there to pray.
This small chapter following Andrey provides insight on the thoughts and attitudes of more of the general public in Russia. Here the narrator introduces the real-life effects of an idea that other characters have only mentioned: the razing of churches by the Bolsheviks. Because of this act, many people are searching desperately for a place to pray.
Andrey makes dinner for his wife, sets the table, and then walks down the hall. Without quite realizing it, he turns into the room of his late son Ilya, who had been killed in the Battle of Berlin. They left his room just as it had been before he left, but he worries that doing so is only prolonging their grief.
Sofia’s survival in the prior chapter is contrasted with Andrey’s son’s death, and how much loss and change the average, working-class man like Andrey has had to endure over the past twenty years.
Andrey knows, however, that soon enough someone in the building will tell the housing authorities that their only son has died, and then they will be moved into an even smaller apartment and the room will have to be packed up regardless. Even so, he goes and smooths the blanket on the bed before turning out the light.
There is even a further tragedy for Andrey in losing a son, beyond his actual death: having to say goodbye to the home in which they shared memories of Ilya. This is due to the housing policies that again illustrate the harshness of the Bolshevik systems.