Although life in the camp was cramped and uncomfortable for many reasons, one of the worst issues with the Wakatsuki family's housing situation was the dust that kept on blowing into the barracks from the knotholes and cracks in the walls, covering everything. This issue is the focus of Chapter 3: "A Different Kind of Sand," in which "a fine dust" and "a skin of sand" are discovered all throughout the room in the morning, coating everything in the room, including their clothes and even their faces. Woody jokes that the rooms are barrels of flour, but his mom doesn't see anything funny about the situation; she seems deeply irritated that they are living in such squalid conditions.
They solve the issue by covering up the knotholes in the walls and floor with the nailed-in lids of tin cans, by sweeping up all of the dust that had settled on the floor, and by finding bits of scrap lumber and nailing those over the larger cracks in the walls. Woody directs much of this work, trying to approach it with optimism and jokes, but Mama remains depressed. "Animals live like this," she says. Their vastly different reactions to the problem of the dust and its slow, difficult solution reveal quite a lot about their respective personalities.