Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As the sun begins to set, people share the food they have brought with them. Elena asks Lina for the loaf of bread, but Lina shakes her head—she left it in her room at home in the panic of packing. Andrius sits smoking a cigarette, and tells Lina he is seventeen. When she asks how long he has been smoking, he asks her if she is the police and ignores her. Though it is dark in the train car as night falls, Elena points out they should be thankful the door to the car is open for air. Lina falls asleep wondering where her father is.
Though Lina and Andrius should presumably get along well since they are of a similar age, they are also both teenagers, and therefore predisposed to sulking and sullenness (even in the most dehumanizing or traumatic of situations), as Andrius is here. Elena, positive as ever, points out the silver lining in their night on the train car.
Themes
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina wakes up to Andrius’ nudging. Jonas is at the door of the car. He tells Lina that an hour ago, a train arrived and there are rumors that it is full of men. He and Andrius wonder if their fathers are on it. With a guard one hundred feet away, they sneak off the train. Andrius reads the Russian writing on the side of the train: “Thieves and Prostitutes.” Lina realizes that this is what kind of criminals they are being branded as by the Soviets.
Despite the brutality they have seen the NKVD commit already, the loyalty Lina and Andrius feel for their fathers gives them the courage to jump out of the car and look for them. Lina is horrified to see what kind of criminals they have been branded as. These markers are likely to dissuade any concerned civilians they pass from aiding or reporting the suffering passengers.
Themes
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Jonas, Andrius, and Lina creep along the sides of the train cars, asking for their fathers via bathroom holes. Eventually Jonas and Lina find Kostas. Lina and Jonas are extremely relieved to have found their father, but are shocked and upset at the state he is in: When he peers through the hole, Lina can see that he looks gray and that his eye is badly bruised. Kostas says that his train is being attached to the one Lina was on, and that they are being taken to Siberia. Kostas quickly gives his children items of clothing and a large piece of ham. Despite the fact that it has been shoved through a hole used for waste, he demands that Lina and Jonas eat it immediately. Lina tears it into quarters, giving some to Jonas and Andrius and saving the rest for Elena.
The wound on Kostas’ face shows that he has likely already been through an even worse ordeal than the rest of his family. Lina is again being forced to make sacrifices—like basic hygiene—that would have seemed unthinkable in her previous life.
Themes
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Kostas then gives Lina his wedding ring and tells her to give it to Elena in case she needs to sell it. Kostas tells his children to have courage, and he tells Lina to use her drawings “like Munch” to help him track her down eventually. Munch, Lina’s favorite artist, has a very distinct signature and style she can recognize anywhere—just like Kostas will be able to recognize any piece of art that is by Lina’s hand, even if she doesn’t specifically write down that it is from or by her. Andrius asks if his father is in the car, but he isn’t there. Andrius insists on searching for his father alone, while Lina and Jonas head back to the train car to tell Elena they found Kostas.
Like Elena, Kostas insists that Lina and Jonas have courage—it is the only thing the NKVD cannot take away from them, and it will give them the resilience to survive even in the face of those who are doing everything to ensure they do not. Kostas, who has always encouraged Lina’s art, further helps his daughter by urging her to continue drawing even in this situation, since it will keep her sane and also perhaps help bring them together one day.
Themes
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
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