At age 15, Tereza’s mother forced Tereza to quit school and go to work in a restaurant. Tereza was forced to clean house and take care of her siblings, but she often escaped into the bathtub with a book. Tereza’s stepfather would come into the bathroom when she was in the tub, and Tereza’s mother, who frequently walked around naked, became upset if Tereza locked the door.
There is no modesty in Tereza’s house. Everyone is reduced to just a body, but Tereza longs for something more, which she looks for in books. Tereza is constantly being forced to work in restaurants, both by her mother and by the Russians (she is later dismissed from her professional job), which again illustrates the power they both hold over her.