Jonas finds an empty barrel and pulls it ashore to use as a stove. The men set to building it. Ivanov begins to steal bread rations—he once grabbed an old woman’s food, chewed it, and spit it at her feet, and she scrambled to eat the remains. They hear rumors that Ivanov had been demoted from a prison in Krasnoyarsk, and that guard assignments in Trofimovsk are demotions. The deportees must chop logs for firewood but are not given any for themselves. Jonas and Lina set off to steal some of the wood. They notice that Elena is getting weaker, and realize she has been giving them her rations—starving herself to feed her children. The polar night begins and the days and nights are freezing. Kretszky sees them, and throws pieces of wood at them to use for firewood. The first snowstorm arrives at the end of September. Janina itches and Lina realizes there are lice in the jurta. They scoop ice to melt for water, and must relieve themselves inside the hut with the snowstorm raging outside.
Though Kretszky is one of the guards who is cruel to the deportees, he begins to show signs that he questions the actions of the NKVD. Lina and Jonas are not sure why Elena speaks to him, but it appears that he has some sympathy for the deportees, since he gives Lina and Jonas firewood. Ivanov, the other new guard, is reportedly bitter and cruel because he has been demoted, perhaps from the same prison that Kostas is in. This leaves Lina to wonder whether he exacted this kind of cruelty on her father as well. In order to survive, the deportees must scrounge and be even more creative with the little resources they have in the wilderness. Elena again shows her generous and self-sacrificing nature.