Characters

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The main character in the novel is Lina Vilkas, a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl. Her parents, Elena and Kostas, also have a son, the ten-year-old Jonas. Joana Vilkas, Lina's cousin, never appears personally in the novel except in Lina's memories. On the train to Siberia, Lina meets Andrius Arvydas. He is around her age and traveling with his mother, who is never named past "Mrs. Arvydas." Also on the train is "The Bald Man," which is what Lina calls the pessimistic postman Mr. Stalas. Mrs. Grybas is a teacher from Lina and Jonas's school, and she is a strict but incredibly strong woman who often takes charge. On the other side of the spectrum is the sad character of Ona, a young woman who has just given birth. Over the course of a dozen chapters, her child dies and she deteriorates with grief. Nikolai Kretszky, a sadistic soldier, and Komorov, the commander, are the main antagonists within the story.

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There are also a handful of minor characters throughout the novel, like the Vilkas's first Siberian labor camp roommate, Ulyushka, and Doctor Samodurov.

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