Elena learns that the name of the village is Turaciak. In order to check for mail, she will have to continue to bribe people who have signed the documents. They hear rumors that men might be in a prison near Tomsk. The bald man warns their letters could lead to their deaths. They speculate what the Germans are doing in Kiev, which they have just taken, and Lithuania. The bald man says that Hitler is killing the Jews, and this makes people upset. Despite the harsh reality of Hitler and Stalin, Elena is elated by any news of Lithuania.
Though the deportees are generally kind and generous towards each other, those who have signed and are granted passage to the village accept bribes, since they have given up twenty-five years of their lives for the ability to have certain privileges. While anyone other than the Stalin seems like a savior to the deportees, the harsh reality is that Hitler is just as bad or worse.
The possibility of letters keeps morale up throughout the camp. Even as it gets colder, the NKVD push the deportees harder. They force Elena to teach a class of Altaian and Lithuanian children. Only the children of people who sign the documents are allowed to attend. Jonas gets a job chopping wood, and pays Ulyushka with splinters and logs. He also makes the family boots, and his Russian improves. Lina is assigned to move 60-pound bags of grain in the snow. Everyone learns how to pilfer food, no matter how maggot-infested it might be.
Despite Jonas’ young age, he adapts socially to the camp much better than Lina does, since she is bitter and resistant to any kind of acclimation. Jonas charms the Altaian women he works for, thus ensuring that his family has warm shoes for winter. Though Elena has resisted translating for the NKVD, she accepts a job teaching children, since it at least does some social good.