Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray Chapter 36 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lina wakes to the NKVD yelling at the deportees to get out of the huts in the middle of the night. They herd them at gunpoint to the kolkhoz office, which the guards use as home base. The room they are placed in has portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin on the walls. The commander says (through Elena’s translation) that the deportees have been brought in to sign a document saying they agree to join the collective farm, are to pay a war tax of two hundred rubles per person, and that they agree to be sentenced to twenty-five years’ hard labor for their “crimes.” People begin to panic, but the NKVD point their rifles at them.
Though the NKVD has already been punishing the deportees for supposed crimes against the state, they now further humiliate them by forcing them to sign documents subjecting them to an even more terrible fate. Even the children are being charged with crimes they couldn’t possibly have committed. As usual, the NKVD have no explanation for their brutal rules, but are able to enforce them because they are the ones wielding the weapons.
Themes
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
An older man shouts for everyone to keep calm. He says he is an attorney. Many people say they will refuse to sign, and since it is early August and they are needed to work on the farms, they are not likely at risk to be killed. They all agree to refuse to sign in civil disobedience. They sit down in straight lines on the floor of the log cabin.
The deportees utilize what little agency they have by enacting civil disobedience and peacefully refusing to sign the documents. Though they will still be punished and subjected to starvation and abuse, they at least can reserve their dignity and refuse to participate in their own sentence.
Themes
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
They sit for hours. The guards try to hurt and intimidate people into signing, but no one does. Those who fall asleep are beaten. The commander goes up to Elena and spits something slimy into her face. Elena quickly brushes it off, but Lina is filled with hatred.
Elena is being specifically targeted for refusing to translate and spy for the NKVD. Lina now hates the NKVD even more for so spitefully and personally abusing her mother.
Themes
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon