The conditions are so miserable that the deportees long for their previous labor camp. They hope there is a village nearby to mail letters from, and that this is perhaps not their final destination. The older man who was a lawyer says that the polar night—when the sun falls below the horizon for 180 days—is nearly upon them. They must prepare for the cold and darkness. Janina’s mother, going mad with despair, tries to strangle Janina. Elena forces her off of the girl and Mrs. Rimas slaps the woman across the face while Janina cries. Elena calms the woman, and says they mustn’t lose their senses. She assures the deportees that everything will be fine.
As the struggle for survival becomes even more desperate than before, so too do the deportees, as evidenced by Janina’s mother’s tragic attempt to kill her daughter. Like the bald man’s initial suicide attempt when he jumped off of the truck, Janina’s mother’s twisted logic is that it would be better for her and her daughter to die by her own hand than to be killed by the monsters that make up the NKVD. Elena, in her unyielding optimism, soothes the woman and urges the other deportees that losing their minds will help no one.