The Endless Steppe
Vilna, Poland in June of 1941
What is the setting of the first chapter?
Rubtsovsk, Russia from 1941-1946
What is the setting of the rest of the book until the last scene?
Lodz, Poland around April 1946
What is the setting of the last scene?
What does Esther call her father?
He was in his pajamas.
What was shocking about the way he left the house when the soldiers first arrived at their house in Poland?
her mother's jewelry
What was in the matchbox that Esther took to her grandmother on the morning she left Poland?
Who forced the Rudomins into exile, Russian soldiers or German soldiers?
her photo albums
What does Esther want to pack but must leave behind?
He is assigned to a different train by himself.
What particularly sad event happens to the grandfather when the family was being forced to load into cattle cars?
Bunks were added.
What major alteration is made to the cattle car so that it can hold human cargo?
The Russians provided watery cabbage soup and they were able to buy cheese, milk and bread when the train stopped.
Besides the food that some of the deportees brought with them, what kind of food did they eat on the journey?
How long was the journey from Poland to Siberia?
Rubtsovsk, Soviet Union, Asia
Name the village, country and continent they were exiled to?
a gypsum mine
Where is the family first assigned to work?
Father drove the wagon; mother dynamited; grandmother shoveled gypsum, and Esther weeded the potato field.
What are each of their jobs at the gypsum mine?
Be careful about what you say. Someone may be listening.
Esther's mother said, "The walls have ears." What did she mean?
plaster casts for wounded soldiers
What was gypsum used for?
slices of watermelon
What did the peasant girls who lived near the gypsum mine steal and give to Tata?
She used clay which stuck to her scalp. Grandmother had to comb it out.
What did Esther use to wash her hair while living near the mine and what was the result?
She pushed back her cuticles.
Grandmother had a personal hygiene routine each evening. What was it?
Makrinin was respectful and kind. He seemed saddened by their plight.
Who was in charge of the gypsum mine and how did he treat the deportees?
What did the barracks near the mine used to be?
a trading market in the town square
What was a baracholka?
When was the baracholka in Rubtsovsk?
They are granted amnesty by the government.
Why is the family allowed to leave the mine and move closer to the village?
She likes the attention given her by her classmates.
What does Esther like about going to school?
Her grandfather had died in a concentration camp.
What sad news does Esther's family receive during the first winter in Siberia?
Spy on the other Polish deportees.
What did the secret police want Tata to do for them?
She cuts her hair.
How does Esther overcome Svetalana's dislike of her?
What American product does Esther occasionally get to enjoy?
Nina and Nikita
Who were the first Russians who rented space to the Rudomins?
What Polish family lives with them for awhile?
What is the biggest problem in the home with the sisters?
They use his real name, Ivan Petrovich.
How do the Rudomins help Vanya the bum find dignity?
He is sent to the front lines by the Soviet army.
Why does the father move away?
What does Esther's mother cook for her 12th birthday party?
Her brother Liusik. She knows he has probably been killed or sent to a concentration camp by the Germans.
The mother denies knowing someone back in Vilna. Who was it and why does she regret that decision.
She advertises her knitting and hand-sewing.
What does Esther do to make money?
The mother with a sick daughter, Marya Nikolayevna, the lady with the chifforobe, and a dressmaker.
To whom does she sell her hand-sewing?
Marya is fatter than when she measured her.
Why does Esther have to re-do Marya's red sweater.
What is Esther's favorite place to go in Rubtsovsk?
Who lets Esther and her mother live with him while his wife is away?
She recites Tatyana's Dream from Eugene Onegin by Pushkin.
What is the name of the literary work Esther chooses to recite? Who wrote it and what section does she memorize?
She forgot to wear shoes.
Why does she have to run home before the recitation?
a Siberian snowstorm
What is a buran?
She was angry at the dressmaker and didn't heed the warning signs.
Why does she get caught in a buran?
By calling her name and reciting the Sh'mah Israel.
How does the mother "home" her in?
A couple and their baby with whom Esther enjoys living.
Who are Nikolay, Natasha and Katia?
She likes a boy named Yuri.
Why does Esther want to be the newspaper editor?
She wants to know if her photo albums survived.
Why does Esther write to Stanislav the caretaker of her house back in Vilna?
boots and a jacket
Esther buys sapogy and a fufaika? What were these items of clothing?
Only one of the family members return to Vilna after the war. Who was it?
They reunite in Lodz, Poland in the Spring of 1946
Where does the family reunite and when?
He is almost left behind when he jumps off the train and forces her back on so she won't be left behind.
What does Reiner do for Esther on the trip back?
She has grown to love it because it is spacious and quiet.
How does Esther feel about the endless steppe before she leaves?
Esther's favorite teacher at her new school
Mean teacher who often humiliates Esther
Esther's friend who takes her to the Masquerade Ball.
Wealthy woman who grew too fat to fit into the knitted red sweater
Author of Eugene Onegin
Vanya the bum
The sad but nice director of the gypsum mine
Jealous girl who shares her books with Esther and becomes Esther's BFF