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Marfa's one of the few adults in the novel to show Sasha anything approaching kindness (the other is the nice lady he meets in line for Lubyanka prison). She gives Sasha a carrot to eat while he's waiting for his dad to come home. The only other thing we know about Marfa is that she doesn't even have a room in the komunalka: she sleeps "in a cubbyhole next to the toilet" (7.3). How's that for downsized living?