Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Lina Vilkas Character Analysis

Lina Vilkas is fifteen years old when she and her family are deported from their comfortable middle class home in Lithuania in 1941. Her father Kostas, a professor at the local university, is accused of the anti-Soviet activity of aiding in the repatriation of relatives back to Germany, thus branding the entire family criminals. Though young, Lina already knows that her passion in life is for drawing, and she is preparing to enter art school when she is ripped away from the only life she has ever known. Despite the hardships she endures upon deportation, she never ceases to stop her drawing. For Lina, drawing is a way to process the world, and is her best mode of expression. She is devoted to saving her family members, and risks her life multiple times throughout the novel in attempts to save her mother Elena and brother Jonas. She continues to document the horrors of the Baltic genocide through her drawings at the risk of certain death, and hopes to pass along the drawings to Kostas so that he may find out where she has been relocated. The entire novel is written from Lina’s first-person point of view, and the epilogue reveals that the work has been created from her preserved drawings and writings discovered decades later.

Lina Vilkas Quotes in Between Shades of Gray

The Between Shades of Gray quotes below are all either spoken by Lina Vilkas or refer to Lina Vilkas. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Speak edition of Between Shades of Gray published in 2012.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“Promise me that if anyone tries to help you, you will ignore them. We will resolve this ourselves. We must not pull family or friends into this confusion, do you understand? Even if someone calls out to you, you must not respond.”

Related Characters: Elena Vilkas (speaker), Lina Vilkas
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

As Lina sits writing a letter to her cousin Joana on June 14, 1941, NKVD officers barge into her home and demand that she, her brother Jonas, and her mother Elena pack up their things and leave with them. They are being arrested by the Soviet Union’s secret police, the NKVD. Stalin has recently annexed Lithuania, and is rounding up those who have expressed dissent against the state. Lina’s father, Kostas, the provost of the local university, has already been arrested.

In this quote, Elena, Lina’s mother, urges her not to speak to anyone she sees in the streets while they are being marched away by the NKVD. This is so they do not accidentally entangle anyone else in what Elena dubs a “confusion,” or the reason why they have been arrested, which is not clear at the moment. Even though it might be tempting to accept advice, resources, or help from people they might see, that alone could be grounds for arrest by the NKVD, since it would be seen as helping criminals. From now on, the family must fend for itself.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Between Shades of Gray quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

“But what did you do?” I asked him.
“Nothing, Lina. Have you finished your homework?”
“But you must have done something to deserve free bread,” I pressed.
“I don’t deserve anything. You stand for what is right, Lina, without the expectation of gratitude or reward. Now, off to your homework.”

Related Characters: Kostas Vilkas (speaker), Lina Vilkas
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Lina has flashback memories throughout the novel, and this is the first of many. In this memory, she recalls one time when she went to the bakery to get a loaf of bread. The woman behind the counter insisted that she take it for free, to thank her for the “kindness” Lina’s father had shown her and others. Here, Lina asks her father what he did, but he won’t tell her, citing the fact that one should not expect something in return when one does a good deed.

At this point Lina does not realize that Kostas has been helping people in the community escape from the clutches of the NKVD. The woman likely has family or friends whom Kostas helped, and that is why she wants to show him a small gesture of gratitude by giving his family bread. Lina later learns that Kostas has been charged with “accessory,” meaning that he was found to have helped people leave the country before the Soviets could arrest them. Kostas knows that this will put him and his family in grave danger, but is determined to do what he can to resist Stalin’s malicious reign.

Chapter 4 Quotes

The truck stopped in front of the hospital. Everyone seemed relieved that they would tend to the bald man’s injuries. But they did not. They were waiting. A woman who was also on the list was giving birth to a baby. As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, they would both be thrown into the truck.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Mr. Stalas (The Bald Man), Ona
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

After they are arrested, Elena, Jonas, and Lina are thrown into a truck that spends hours rounding up people around Kaunas who are also being arrested by the NKVD. The bald man throws himself from the truck in an attempt to commit suicide, but only succeeds in breaking his leg. In this quote, the passengers on the truck hope that they have arrived at a hospital so that he can receive treatment. Instead, they learn that a woman who is currently in labor and her newborn infant will soon join them.

This quote is the first evidence of the absolute mercilessness of the NKVD. They will not stop at anything to subjugate and imprison people whom they believe to be dissidents towards the state, no matter who or what they are. Ona’s infant child is branded as a thief and a prostitute before it is even born. This shows that their violence is not just brutal, but that it is largely arbitrary, making the deportees feel even more helpless in the clutches of the NKVD. Ona’s infant will become a symbol for children arrested by the NKVD who are not even given a chance at life before they are branded as criminals and left to die on the trains and in the camps.

Chapter 6 Quotes

“Sir,” said Jonas, leaning around me. He held out his little ruler from school. The old woman who had gasped at my nightgown began to cry.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Jonas Vilkas (speaker), Mr. Stalas (The Bald Man)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

On the truck, the passengers quickly realize that there will be no chance for the NKVD to help the bald man with his leg injuries. This becomes overwhelmingly evident when they rip Ona and her newborn child out of the hospital, despite the doctor’s desperate pleas to leave the baby, since there is no chance that it will survive. In this quote, ten-year-old Jonas, who is still very sweet and naïve, offers up his school ruler to use as a splint for the bald man’s broken leg. An old woman on the truck, shocked by the innocence of this boy who has also been branded as a criminal, begins to weep.

Despite the horror and squalor that the deportees will find themselves in for years, they will also exhibit extreme acts of kindness towards one another throughout their struggles. Jonas, who from the start is marked by a sweet disposition, is eager to help in any way he can, despite his young age and small stature. The adults on the bus are shocked by the fact that the NKVD would target small children like Jonas and even a newborn baby—a mark of the NKVD’s refusal to show any kind of mercy or rationality in rounding up people they deem not worthy to be a part of the Soviet Union.

Chapter 7 Quotes

Mother continued to speak in Russian and pulled a pocket watch from her coat. I knew that watch. It was her father’s and had his name engraved in the soft gold on the back. The officer snatched the watch, let go of Jonas, and started yelling at the people next to us.

Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas, Jonas Vilkas
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

After all of those arrested in Kaunas are loaded onto the truck, the NKVD drive the deportees to a train station where they are forced off the truck. The NKVD then begin to separate families, but Elena is desperate to keep herself, Lina, and Jonas together. She begins to pull valuables out of her coat lining, but the NKVD officer doesn’t seem satisfied by her bribes. In this quote, he finally accepts a beautiful pocket watch that belonged to Elena’s father in exchange for Jonas’ life. Here, Lina is horrified that the officer believes her brother’s life is worth a watch, but also relieved that the bribe worked.

As instructed by Stalin, the NKVD treat the Lithuanian deportees as if they are “fascist pigs,” and truly seek to put them in situations not even fit for livestock. Elena has clearly foreseen the possibility of an arrest, and sews valuables and money into the lining of her coat so that she may use them as bribes and currency. There is no telling what would happen to a young boy separated from his mother and at the mercy of the NKVD. Lina feels conflicted over the fact that Elena gave a watch in exchange for Jonas—she is happy that it worked, but would like to believe her brother is worth so much more. In the NKVD camps, the guards attempt to break down the deportees so that they believe their lives are worthless.

Chapter 11 Quotes

“You’re very brave to have come. You must all stay together. I know you’ll take good care of your sister and mother while I am away.”
“I will, Papa, I promise,” said Jonas. “When will we see you?”
Papa paused. “I don’t know. Hopefully soon.”
I clutched the bundle of clothes. Tears began dropping down my cheeks.
“Don’t cry, Lina. Courage,” said Papa. “You can help me.”
“Do you understand?” My father looked at Andrius, hesitant. “You can help me find you,” he whispered. “I’ll know it’s you…just like you know Munch. But you must be very careful.”

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Jonas Vilkas (speaker), Kostas Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas, Andrius Arvydas
Related Symbols: Drawing
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

When a train full of men pulls into the station next to Lina’s train, Jonas wakes her and Andrius in the night so that they can go look for their fathers. After much searching, Lina and Jonas eventually find Kostas. He speaks to them through the bathroom hole, and they can see that his face is badly bruised. He gives them food and goods to pass to Elena. In this quote, he urges his children to have courage for his sake so that they may be resilient and persevere. He also hints to Lina that she can use her drawing skills to make distinctive drawings, so that he can trace them back to her and reunite the family.

This is the first and last time that Lina sees Kostas in the novel, outside of memories of him. Kostas and Lina have a very special bond, and he is very supportive of her artistic talent. Elena and Kostas are equal pillars of knowledge and strength in the Vilkas family, and though the two children are grateful for their mother’s presence, they all greatly miss Kostas and wish he were around to support the family as well. Lina will spend much of the novel drawing symbols and markers of what she is going through and where she has been, in the hopes that they will find their way to Kostas and that they will be reunited again some day. These brief words of encouragement follow Lina for years.

Chapter 22 Quotes

The man who wound his watch approached me.
“Do you have a handkerchief I could borrow?” he asked.
I nodded and quickly handed him the hankie, neatly folded to conceal my writing…The man patted his brow with the handkerchief before putting it in his pocket. Pass it along, I thought, imagining the hankie traveling hand to hand until it reached Papa.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Kostas Vilkas
Related Symbols: Drawing
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

After traveling for six weeks in squalor on the train, the deportees are instructed to leave the train cars and exit onto a field. They have no idea where they are, but enjoy the feeling of stretching their legs. In this quote, the man on the train who agreed to pass along Lina’s drawings so that they might reach her father surreptitiously asks her for a handkerchief, and simply does not give it back—suggesting that he will ensure that men keep “lending” it to other men in the hopes that it eventually reaches the camp where Kostas is, and can help Lina and Kostas find each other someday.

In the desperation of the NKVD prison camps, deportees like Lina can only hold onto the hope that they will one day reunite with their loved ones. Though it is extremely unlikely that a handkerchief could make its way across Europe to reunite a father and daughter, it is the only chance Lina has, and her survival depends on her ability to become resilient through her hope. Lina refuses to let the NKVD, Stalin, and the Soviet Union rip her family apart, and she will do whatever it takes to ensure she sees her father again someday.

Chapter 27 Quotes

“Hey, there was blond hair under all that dirt,” said Andrius, reaching out and grabbing a strand of my hair. I shrank back and looked away. Mother put her arm around me.

Related Characters: Andrius Arvydas (speaker), Lina Vilkas
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

After they are hauled off of the trucks and fail to be sold to Siberians, the group of deportees is brought to bathhouses where they wash for the first time in weeks. The women are forced to undress in front of the NKVD guards, who leer at them. One guard gropes Lina’s breast, and Elena violently pushes him away. In this quote, Andrius playfully compliments Lina’s appearance now that she has been cleaned, but she flinches from his touch instinctively, since the last man who reached out to touch her did so without consent.

Sexual assault and rape are often used against women in times of war. As a young girl, Lina is particularly vulnerable, and Elena will do anything to protect her daughter from the violence of the guards. Even though Lina finds Andrius kind and attractive, sexual assault can cause PTSD in victims, and Lina flinches from his touch despite the fact that she knows and feels safe with him. Lina doesn’t tell Jonas what happened because she doesn’t want to upset him, and because she is still not sure how to process the assault. Elena knows right away why Lina flinches, however, and she is there to comfort her and silently tell her that she has support.

Chapter 30 Quotes

“Jonas,” said Mother, stroking my brother’s face. “I can’t trust them. Stalin has told the NKVD that Lithuanians are the enemy. The commander and the guards look at us as beneath them. Do you understand?”

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas (speaker), Jonas Vilkas
Related Symbols: Josef Stalin
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

Once they arrive at the labor camp, the NKVD order Elena to go speak to the commander in the barracks. They do not let Jonas and Lina inside the building with her. When Elena emerges, she takes them back to the shack before telling them that the NKVD asked her to help translate Lithuanian into Russian for them. They also wanted her to spy on other deportees for them. In exchange, they promised her preferential treatment.

In this quote, Elena explains to Jonas that it is doubtful that the NKVD would have actually given her extra food or other resources in exchange for acting as a traitor to her own people. She is a prisoner under the NKVD for a reason, and that reason is that they see her a “fascist pig,” less than human, as decreed by Stalin. This wouldn’t change if she put aside her morals to work for them—it would only make her feel worse about her current situation. Here, Elena teaches Lina and Jonas a valuable lesson about preserving their dignity and keeping their heads high, even in the face of incredible adversity.

Chapter 33 Quotes

We began to laugh. It was such a ridiculous sight, grabbing our knees in a circle. We actually laughed.... “Our sense of humor,” said Mother, her eyes pooled with laughing tears. “They can’t take that away from us, right?”

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas (speaker)
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

At the labor camps, the guards put the women to work digging a pit. They don’t give them proper shovels—many of them are missing handles—and it is very difficult to dig in the frozen ground. They are given occasional water breaks, but no food beyond their daily bread ration. It is hard, back-breaking labor. During their water break, the women go relieve themselves in the woods by squatting in a circle. One woman asks Elena to “pass the talcum powder,” causing the women to burst into laughter. In this quote, Elena points out the NKVD can’t take away their sense of humor at least.

The deportees cling to the little joys in life that humans derive from one another—kindness, stories, and jokes—since these are intangible things that even Stalin cannot institute into collective labor camps. Despite the sadness of their journey, the women become friends with each other, and are able to share a laugh in even the bleakest of situations. Lina’s story of the genocide of the Baltic people therefore shows both the most beautiful side of humanity—the deportees’ kindness and generosity—and the ugliest side of humanity—the NKVD’s merciless torture.

Chapter 39 Quotes

“Because they threatened to kill me unless she slept with them. And if they get tired of her, they still might kill me. So how would you feel, Lina, if your mother felt she had to prostitute herself to save your life?

Related Characters: Andrius Arvydas (speaker), Lina Vilkas, Mrs. Arvydas
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

One day, Lina sees Mrs. Arvydas serving drinks to the NKVD through the window of the barracks. She realizes that Andrius and Mrs. Arvydas are working for the NKVD. She confronts Andrius about it and, in this quote, he flies into a rage and tells her the truth: the NKVD threatened to kill Andrius if Mrs. Arvydas didn’t agree to sleep with them. Here Andrius reveals that his life is still in danger should the NVKD ever change their minds.

Though Lina and Elena have fortunately not been raped by the guards, Lina was groped by the guard at the bathhouse, and Elena was once accosted by many guards and saved at the very last moment by Kretszky. Like Elena, Mrs. Arvydas would do anything to protect her children, and she is willing to prostitute herself if it means saving Andrius’ life. However, they all know of the arbitrary nature of the NKVD’s decisions—one day, they might decide they don’t want to keep up their end of the bargain anymore, and kill them both. Though Andrius and Mrs. Arvydas live lives that are relatively more comfortable compared to the other deportees, no one would want to trade places with them. Lina is horrified at this revelation, and disgusted with herself for jumping to conclusions.

Chapter 41 Quotes

My art teacher had said that if you breathed deeply and imagined something, you could be there. You could see it, feel it. During our standoffs with the NKVD, I learned to do that. I clung to my rusted dreams during the times of silence. It was at gunpoint that I fell into every hope and allowed myself to wish from the deepest part of my heart. Komorov thought he was torturing us. But we were escaping into a stillness within ourselves. We found strength here.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Komorov (The Commander)
Related Symbols: Drawing
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

Every other night for months, the NKVD wake the deportees in the middle of the night and try to force them to sign documents confessing their “guilt” and agreeing to 25 years of forced labor. Though many deportees do give in and sign the documents—which allows them special privileges in the present, such as going into the nearby town—Lina, Elena, and Jonas do not. In this quote, Lina reveals that she finds a way to meditate and free her mind while she is sitting in quiet, civil disobedience with a gun pointed at her head. It is in these near-death experiences that she finds the most peace within herself, and is most at peace with her situation.

Many deportees refuse to sign, despite the NKVD’s fervent attempts to coerce them into doing so, because then they would be “admitting” to the Soviet Union that they are criminals, and become complicit in their imprisonment. None of them have actually done anything wrong, and as long as they are still under the guard of the NKVD anyway, they see no reason to give up their lives, family, friends, and their dignity, too. Though people call those who end up signing “traitors,” Lina also understands that other people need to make peace with themselves in different ways. Lina channels the teachings of her art teacher in order to endure these difficult times.

Chapter 42 Quotes

Jonas was learning Russian much quicker than I was. He could understand a fair amount of conversation and could even use slang. I constantly asked him to translate. I hated the sound of the Russian language.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Jonas Vilkas
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

In the labor camps, Jonas acclimates to life there much better than Lina does. He works for women who make boots and other supplies out of animal skins, and they come to adore him and his sweet disposition. Jonas is also able to pick up words and phrases of Russian, and begins to learn the language from the women he is working for. Lina constantly asks Jonas to translate, because she is resistant to learning the language of the people she hates.

Lina has always been strong-willed, and refuses to normalize life in the camps. She is deeply patriotic to Lithuania, and clings to her language the way she clings to her memories of home. Although she rationally knows it would be safer for her and her family if she learned the language and could overhear what the NKVD are saying, and potentially bargain with them if need be, she stubbornly refuses to learn out of spite and defiance. To Lina, everything about the NKVD—their names, appearance, and language—stands for evil. They are each just a cog in Stalin’s wheel, and she will resist everything about them to the very best of her ability.

Chapter 51 Quotes

I grabbed our family photo and stuffed it up my dress. I would hide it on the way to the kolkhoz office. Kretszky didn’t notice. He stood motionless, holding his rifle, staring at all the photographs.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Nikolai Kretszky
Related Symbols: Family Photos
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

For weeks the deportees plan a Christmas Eve celebration, called a Kucios. In traditional Lithuanian manner, they get together, bringing the little bits of food they have scrimped and saved. They leave one empty spot on the floor to represent those who are not present but who are missed, and put photographs of their family members there. The NKVD interrupt the celebration to order them to the office, hoping to intimidate them into signing the documents. Lina frantically grabs her photograph—it is irreplaceable. In this quote, Kretszky is silent and motionless when he sees the photographs.

Though most of the NKVD officers unwaveringly act as if the deportees really are less than human, Kretszky begins to show signs throughout the novel that he regrets his actions and his place in the NKVD. Here, he is clearly given pause by the sentiment shown by the deportees who greatly miss their family members. As we later learn, Kretszky has had a difficult upbringing: his mother died when he was young, and his stepmother hated him. He longs to help his relatives in Poland, which has been invaded by Germany. Seeing all the deportees miss their relatives makes their plight much more human and much more real to Kretszky, who begins to deeply regret what he has done to them.

Chapter 57 Quotes

I hated that Mother shared with Ulyushka. She had tried to throw Jonas out into the snow when he was sick. She didn’t think twice about stealing from us. She never shared her food. She ate egg after egg, right in front of us. Yet Mother insisted on sharing with her.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas, Jonas Vilkas, Ulyushka
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

After Lina completes the portrait for the commander, she goes to the kitchen of the NKVD barracks to get the bread and potatoes she is owed. Instead of the officers just handing it to her, they instead throw food, cans, and garbage out onto Lina and Jonas. A can hits Lina on the head and causes a gash. Lina and Jonas bring the food back to Elena as fast as they can, before they are accused of stealing it. In this quote, Elena forces them to share with Ulyushka, despite how much Lina hates her.

Elena consistently teaches Lina and Jonas that it is important to be kind to everyone, no matter how rude they are to her. She operates under the assumption that everyone needs and deserves a helping hand, and Elena recognizes that Ulyushka, too, is suffering hardships under Stalin and the NKVD. Having been ousted from her own home, she imagines it must be difficult to be forced to share her home with complete strangers. Even though Elena does not expect anything in return from Ulyushka, the woman does ultimately repay Elena’s kindness by giving her lots of food and a thick animal hide when the family is relocated.

Chapter 62 Quotes

“Look at me,” whispered Andrius, moving close. “I’ll see you,” he said. “Just think about that. Just think about me bringing you your drawings. Picture it, because I’ll be there.”

Related Characters: Andrius Arvydas (speaker), Lina Vilkas
Related Symbols: Drawing
Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:

One day Andrius comes into Lina’s shack, warning her, Jonas, and Elena that they are on an NKVD list to be relocated. Andrius and his mother, however, are not. Lina and her family do not know where they are being sent or why they are on this list, but they assume it is because they have not signed the documents. Wherever they are going, it is unlikely to be any better than the labor camp. The NKVD come in the morning, while it is still dark, and call names. In this quote, Andrius says goodbye to Lina, and promises her he will keep her drawings safe. He also promises her that they will see each other again some day.

The romance between Lina and Andrius is proof that despite the NKVD’s best efforts, they cannot remove the humanity and the spirit of the deportees. Even though they treat them like animals, they are real human beings whose true love and sacrifice come to light in the worst of conditions. Lina and Andrius fall in love not despite, but perhaps because of the horrors they face together. As Lina goes off into the great unknown, Andrius puts his own life in danger by harboring her drawings, which contain potentially dangerous and subversive images. The idea of seeing Andrius again is something that gets Lina through the worst of times, and the thought of Lina likely helps Andrius through many hardships as well. One of the small miracles of the novel is that, in the end, they do reunite, and get married.

Chapter 66 Quotes

Mother grabbed my arm. Pain shot up into my shoulder. She spoke through clenched teeth. “We don’t know. Do you hear me? We don’t know what he is. He’s a boy. He’s just a boy.” Mother let go of my arm. “And I’m not lying with him,” she spat at Jonas. “How dare you imply such a thing.”

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas (speaker), Jonas Vilkas, Nikolai Kretszky
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:

While traveling to their new location, Lina and Jonas notice Elena speaking often to Kretszky, and that she refers to him as “Nikolai.” Jonas becomes angry, as he fears that Elena has been subjected to the same fate as Mrs. Arvydas, and that she must prostitute herself to save their lives. Lina hates Kretszky, and is angry that her mother, always kind, would even have compassion for him. In this quote, Elena is shocked and angry at her children’s accusations. She asserts that Kretszky is “just a boy,” and that she would never, ever sleep with him.

Much of Elena’s strength has come from her love of Kostas, and her desire to be with him again, to make her family whole. She is a very kind but extremely principled woman, and would never stoop to do something she felt compromised her morals. Yet her children also know she would do anything to save them. Later on, Elena explains to Lina that Kretszky saved her when she was nearly raped by a number of NKVD officers. Even though Kretszky has power over the deportees, as Elena points out, he’s just a confused young man who has been swept up into the brute force of the Soviet Union’s secret police. Elena is right to maintain a bond, however tenuous, with one of her prison guards, and she is shocked and angry when her children suggest that her intentions are anything but pure.

Chapter 69 Quotes

“I can’t do this! I won’t die here. I will not let a fox eat us!” Suddenly the woman grabbed Janina by the throat. A thick gurgle came from Janina’s windpipe.
Mother threw herself on Janina’s mother and pried her fingers from her daughter’s neck. Janina caught her breath and began to sob.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas, Janina
Page Number: 274
Explanation and Analysis:

When the deportees are told to leave the barge, they find themselves in an even more barren tundra than the one they had been in in the labor camp. They are in the Artic Circle, almost in the North Pole. Unlike the shacks they were previously made to share with the Altaians, here there is no such infrastructure, and the NKVD basically make them fend for themselves in the wild while they build buildings of comparative luxury for the officers. In her desperation over the bleakness of these conditions, Janina’s mother goes mad with fear and tries to take her and Janina’s death into her own hands.

Though a mother’s attempt to kill her daughter may seem like one of the cruelest acts thus far, in context it pales in comparison to the horrors committed by the NKVD every day since the deportees’ arrest. In her manic state, Janina’s mother wants to take control of her and her daughters’ fate by taking it away from the NKVD and into her own hands. She doesn’t want herself and Janina to fall victim to the freezing cold temperatures, rampant diseases, or cruel whims of the NKVD officers. Yet Elena, determined to protect every one of the deportees, luckily wrestles Janina’s mother off of her daughter in time to save them both. She is determined that no one fall victim to the NKVD until it is absolutely too late to save them. Still, her promise that “everything will be fine” falls on somewhat deaf ears in this new, barren tundra.

Chapter 73 Quotes

Joana’s freedom had cost me mine.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Joana Vilkas
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

After the snowstorm, the deportees are immediately sent back to work. They are forced to walk three kilometers in the deep snow to find firewood. On the trek, the bald man demands to wear Lina’s mittens, telling her that he will tell her a secret in exchange. Curious, she complies, and the bald man tells her that her father was arrested because he helped his brother, Petras, and his family repatriate back to his wife’s native Germany. In this quote, Lina realizes that because Kostas helped his brother’s family (including Joana) escape, the NKVD now imprisons her.

Throughout the novel Lina thinks of Joana, whom she has long looked up to, and wishes she were around to talk to. Now, the bald man’s revelations make Lina feel suddenly bitter towards her cousin—because her father helped them escape before finding a new location for his own family, Lina might die, helpless, at the very edge of the world. Though Lina admires her parents’ selflessness and compassion for others, here,she thinks it has gone so far: they have essentially sacrificed their own family to help another. When Lina confronts Elena about why she kept this fact from her, Elena tells her she wanted to protect her, but since Lina has been forced to endure the same trials and tribulations as Elena, she feels that she deserves to know the entire situation surrounding her arrest and the upheaval of her entire life.

Chapter 82 Quotes

“No, I saw it. She was pretty. Krasivaya.”
No. Not that word. I was supposed to learn it on my own. Not from Kretszky.
“It means beautiful, but with strength,” he slurred. “Unique.”

Related Characters: Nikolai Kretszky (speaker), Lina Vilkas, Elena Vilkas, Andrius Arvydas
Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:

After Elena dies, Lina is the sole provider for herself and Jonas. One day, she sneaks behind the NKVD barracks to try and steal some firewood—but Kretszky is there, and he is drunk. Though Lina is afraid he is going to report her for stealing the wood, he reveals that he is sad about the loss of Elena, and he tells Lina about the death of his own mother when he was young. In this quote, he tells Lina that he thought Elena was special—“krasivaya.” This is the same word that Andrius tells Lina he believes applies to her, but that he wants her to find the translation for herself. Lina, who hates Kreszky with a passion, is horrified that she finds out what the word means from him.

In the novel, the traditional patriarchal gender roles are flipped when the men are separated from the women, children, and infirm, and the women are allowed to show their true strength and resilience. This kind of strength is suppressed in domestic life, where women are generally expected to carry out certain duties and keep their opinions to themselves. Indeed, Kostas’ protective view that Lina should not have opinions about the Soviet Union is a part of this suppression, however good his intentions are. Ironically, in the prisons of the NKVD in the Siberian tundra, Lina and Elena are allowed to let their true strength and inner beauty flourish without internal patriarchal suppression. Even Kretszky, an NKVD officer who has meted out his own fair share of torture, sees that both women have an astounding inner strength that helped them to survive. Though Elena has passed, Lina carries on her strength and grace—her krasivaya.

Chapter 84 Quotes

“Dr. Samodurov, how did you find us?” I asked him.
“Nikolai Kretszky,” was all he said.

Related Characters: Dr. Samodurov (speaker), Lina Vilkas, Nikolai Kretszky
Page Number: 334
Explanation and Analysis:

Dr. Samodurov is shocked to find the deportees in the state of squalor that they are living in. He enlists the help of the relatively strong deportees to help prepare food and supplies to nurse the sick back to help. Even the bald man chips in, and insists that Janina and Jonas are the first to be treated. Dr. Samodurov calls in warm clothing and shoes to help them get through the rest of winter. Eventually, after ten days, he must leave to go help the next camp. In this quote, Lina asks him how he knew to come help them. All he will say is, “Nikolai Kretszky.”

Kretszky’s behavior leaves hints throughout the novel that he is beginning to regret complying with the torturous acts of the NKVD. He takes pause when he sees the photographs of the deportees’ families, saves Elena from gang rape, mourns for her death, occasionally looks the other way when he sees Lina stealing the resources she desperately needs, and eventually defects from camp to report the horrors inside. Though Lina is confused and angry with herself for comforting Kretszky when he is drunk and crying about both the death of his own mother and of Elena, it is this small act of respect and compassion that inspires Kreszky to leave the camp and thus saves many lives. As Elena has always taught Lina, it is important to lend a hand of kindness, even to those who don’t seem as if they want or deserve it. Ultimately, it is this lesson that helps Lina and Jonas survive, even if Elena’s selflessness arguably leads to her own death.

Epilogue Quotes

It is my greatest hope that the pages in this jar stir your deepest well of human compassion. I hope they prompt you to do something, to tell someone. Only then can we ensure that this kind of evil is never allowed to repeat itself.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker)
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis:

In the epilogue, construction workers discover a jar full of writings in 1995 while digging in Kaunas, Lithuania. This initial letter, written by Lina, explains that these writings describe the horrors of the Baltic genocide. They were buried on July 9, 1954. In this quote, Lina explains that there are horrible descriptions in the letters, but she does not intend to shock or disgust—only to inspire compassion and empathy. She wants the horror elicited in the reader to compel them to go tell someone, to help fight for this to never happen again.

While the plot of the novel ends after Dr. Samodurov leaves the camp, the reader is left unsure as to exactly what happens to Lina. This letter reveals that she eventually married Andrius, and survived the labor camps. One small miracle of the novel is that Lina and Andrius reunite and that Andrius has saved all her drawings and writings. Together, they bury these precious documents so that someday, someone will know what happened, and prevent it from happening again—their suffering will not be in vain. The continued rise of the Soviet Union after World War II meant that survivors of the Baltic genocide, unlike survivors of the Holocaust under defeated Germany, were not allowed to speak about their suffering. Thus, Lina’s letters carry extremely important historical significance.

Get the entire Between Shades of Gray LitChart as a printable PDF.
Between shades of gray.pdf.medium

Lina Vilkas Character Timeline in Between Shades of Gray

The timeline below shows where the character Lina Vilkas appears in Between Shades of Gray. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
On June 14, 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina Vilkas settles down to write a letter to her older cousin and best friend, Joana,... (full context)
Chapter 2
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
As Elena frantically packs necessities, Lina tries to come to terms with the fact that she, her mother, and brother are... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
...fresh loaf of bread on her desk that Elena has asked her to pack reminds Lina of a conversation she had at the local bakery. This memory is shown using italics... (full context)
Chapter 3
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...packs Jonas a massive suitcase, one that is almost the size of his small body. Lina hears smashing, and runs out of her room to find Elena throwing her favorite glasses... (full context)
Chapter 4
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
The NKVD officers march Lina, Elena, and Jonas out of their home and through the dark night. Lina notices a... (full context)
Chapter 5
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
In an italicized flashback, Lina remembers another time Elena was wringing her hands. Elena asked Lina to bring a pot... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...surely “long gone.” Another man tells Jonas he saw Kostas at the bank that afternoon. Lina knows this is a lie, but is grateful for the comfort it brings Jonas. The... (full context)
Chapter 6
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...for someone to kill him, while Ona’s hospital gown becomes soaked with blood. Feeling nauseous, Lina pictures her grandmother for comfort. The truck arrives at a small train depot in the... (full context)
Chapter 7
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...by. The group is herded towards trains, and must carry Ona and the bald man. Lina can feel the chaos as families are separated. She wonders where her father is, and... (full context)
Chapter 8
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...tells them to hurry and stay with the group, since people are getting split up. Lina takes note of the chaos happening around her, as frantic families attempt to balance their... (full context)
Chapter 9
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina remembers her family being complimented by a photographer during a family photo. She recalls the... (full context)
Chapter 10
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina counts forty-six people in the train car, and imagines it to be a rolling coffin.... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls being a young child listening to a librarian tell a fantastical story. As she... (full context)
Chapter 11
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina wakes up to Andrius’ nudging. Jonas is at the door of the car. He tells... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Jonas, Andrius, and Lina creep along the sides of the train cars, asking for their fathers via bathroom holes.... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Kostas then gives Lina his wedding ring and tells her to give it to Elena in case she needs... (full context)
Chapter 12
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina and Jonas return to the train car, but not before they are caught by a... (full context)
Chapter 13
Genocide Theme Icon
...rises. The people in the train car are given a bucket of slop to share. Lina thinks it looks like animal feed, and some children refuse to eat it. Jonas finds... (full context)
The Power of Art Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls the first time she saw a painting by the artist Edvard Munch, who has... (full context)
Chapter 14
Genocide Theme Icon
Lina wakes up in the dark and hears a noise outside. She looks out to see... (full context)
Chapter 15
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Lina wakes up sometime later to realize that the door to the train car has been... (full context)
Chapter 16
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
As the train rolls along the countryside, Lina reports to the other passengers what she sees. It is June, and the countryside of... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
In a flashback memory, Lina recalls when her teacher held her after class to show her drawings she had pulled... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
...them, they are really men who have come to unhook train cars from each other. Lina realizes they are being separated from the men’s trains. Suddenly, they all hear singing—it is... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina notes the pride that she hears in the voices of the men, and wonders where... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...the train car so that they can get a bit of fresh air. When it’s Lina’s turn to leave the train, it rains. The passengers scramble to collect rainwater to drink.... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
When Lina jumps out of the train to collect the food, her legs give out due to... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
As Elena combs Lina’s wet hair in the darkened car, Lina admits she wanted to run away. Elena says... (full context)
Chapter 18
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...The passengers keep track of the cities they pass, and believe they are heading south. Lina is extremely uncomfortable due to lice and the inability to move or wash. She passes... (full context)
Chapter 19
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...he marks the death of the child and beats the ground in anger. Andrius tells Lina to let him do it so as to get used to the constant deaths, since... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
People discuss what might happen with Hitler in Lithuania. Lina wonders what her father would say, and recalls her parents whispering about politics late into... (full context)
Chapter 20
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...Grybas grabs it and commits the act for her. Meanwhile, Jonas and Andrius become closer. Lina thinks he is a bad influence on Jonas, especially since he teaches him Russian slang... (full context)
Chapter 21
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina stops keeping track as to how long she has been traveling. Every day, more dead... (full context)
Chapter 22
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...days. The bald man guesses they are in the Altai region just north of China. Lina longs for food and privacy. The next morning, the guards tell them it is time... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
The old man who agreed to help Lina comes over and discreetly asks her to borrow a handkerchief. Lina hands him the drawings,... (full context)
Chapter 23
Genocide Theme Icon
The men who arrived look at all of the deportees. When they arrive at Lina’s group, Mrs. Arvydas begs Elena to tell them in Russian that Andrius is a simpleton.... (full context)
Chapter 24
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
As the hours pass, only two groups remain, including Lina’s. The bald man complains that they would be better off dead, and Mrs. Arvydas points... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls Kostas finding a caricature Lina drew of Stalin such that he was wearing a... (full context)
Chapter 25
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...because they are exhausted. The NKVD eat and drink late into the night. Elena tells Lina they are discussing their families back home, but Lina doesn’t believe her. Ona is still... (full context)
Genocide Theme Icon
The group wakes at sunrise, and watches as the only other group left is sold. Lina’s group is put into a truck, and eventually brought to a bathhouse. Men and women... (full context)
Chapter 26
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...at a time. The women undress as the guards ogle at them. A guard gropes Lina’s breast, and it makes her feel sick, dirty, and violated. Elena yells at the guard... (full context)
Chapter 27
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
The guards toss soap at the women and spray them with icy water. Elena helps Lina and Ona wash. Then they leave the bathhouse and get dressed. Lina whispers to Elena... (full context)
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...Elena scrambles to pull her away, the guard shoots Ona in the head. Andrius urges Lina not to look at Ona’s body, but to look at him instead. The truck rolls... (full context)
Chapter 28
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...and into the shacks, though they quickly realize there are already people living in them. Lina, Elena, and Jonas are assigned to a run-down shack where an Altaian woman is already... (full context)
Chapter 29
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina makes note of how small the shack is: approximately ten feet by twelve feet. It... (full context)
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina remembers Elena briefly leaving a dress shop while Lina’s new dress is being tailored. Lina... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Back in the camp, Jonas frets that he and Lina should have followed Elena into the building. Lina peers through a window and sees Elena... (full context)
Chapter 30
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Back in the shack, Elena tells Jonas and Lina that the NKVD wanted her to work for them, translating documents and into Lithuanian. (Elena... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina sorts through her belongings, and takes out the picture frame with the photo of her... (full context)
Chapter 31
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...be allowed to cook it. The woman falls asleep on the bed of straw, and Lina wonders what her life has been like in Siberia. (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina remembers receiving her acceptance letter for the art school in Vilnius. Kostas and Elena are... (full context)
Chapter 32
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...deportees to get out of their shacks and line them up for work detail assignments. Lina notes that she is picking up words and phrases of Russian. Jonas is separated from... (full context)
Chapter 33
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...is more than two feet deep, the women are given a break and some water. Lina is in pain from the effort of digging. The women go into the woods to... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls enjoying a night with her cousins, aunt, and uncle. Joana and Lina take a... (full context)
Chapter 34
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina draws in the dirt with a stick before heading to work the next day. Elena... (full context)
Chapter 35
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Elena insists that Lina take a bread ration to the bald man. Jonas finds straw for the family to... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina sees Andrius on her way back to her hut. He tells her she looks horrible,... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina gives the cigarettes to Elena and passes along Andrius’ hello. The Altaian woman demands the... (full context)
Chapter 36
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina wakes to the NKVD yelling at the deportees to get out of the huts in... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...to Elena and spits something slimy into her face. Elena quickly brushes it off, but Lina is filled with hatred. (full context)
Chapter 37
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
At sunrise the deportees are sent back to work. Lina, Jonas, and Elena clean up and head to work. As they walk to the pit,... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...hands on their heads and to lie down as he circles the hole. Elena tells Lina she loves her as Mrs. Rimas starts to recite a prayer. The commander shoots into... (full context)
Chapter 38
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
When Lina and Elena return to the shack, they are noticeably shaken but don’t tell Jonas why.... (full context)
Chapter 39
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
While eating the potatoes Lina wonders aloud if the NKVD will wake them again to sign the papers. Elena notes... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina refuses to bring food to the bald man each day. Eventually Jonas agrees to do... (full context)
Chapter 40
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Back in the shack, Elena chastises Lina for resisting Andrius’ attempts at friendship. She notes that Kostas was quite clumsy in his... (full context)
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls feeling giddy after meeting the brother Joana had promised to introduce her to. Joana... (full context)
Chapter 41
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...deportees harder and reduce their bread rations if they stumble. Elena becomes alarmingly thin and Lina is so dehydrated that she cannot cry. Every other night they are woken up to... (full context)
Chapter 42
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...of Lithuania, but have no idea what this means for the future of the country. Lina wonders what happened to her house, her possessions, and her relatives. (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls listening to Kostas and his friends speak about politics in hushed voices. They argue... (full context)
Chapter 43
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...day while in the beet field, Kretzsky comes by looking for someone who can draw. Lina is nervous that they have found her drawings, but Kretzsky clarifies that they will pay... (full context)
Chapter 44
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Lina is given a map of Siberia and a photo of a family, with a black... (full context)
Chapter 45
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina hurries back to the shack with the stolen pen and her payment of two cigarettes.... (full context)
Genocide Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls Jonas noting that a classmate was sent to the principal for mentioning hell. Kostas... (full context)
Chapter 46
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
...Ulyushka with splinters and logs. He also makes the family boots, and his Russian improves. Lina is assigned to move 60-pound bags of grain in the snow. Everyone learns how to... (full context)
Chapter 47
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...Rimas receives a letter. Everyone crowds inside her shack to read it. At the gathering, Lina sees Andrius and has a short but polite conversation with him for the first time... (full context)
Chapter 49
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Elena asks Andrius to stay with Lina and Jonas. Andrius looks mad, and Lina tries to apologize for her previous accusations. Andrius... (full context)
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Back in the shack, Andrius suddenly asks Lina to look at her drawings. He flips through them and sees a picture Lina drew... (full context)
Chapter 50
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Two weeks later, Jonas has nearly improved but is still weak. Lina and Elena are weaker than usual, since they have been giving their bread rations to... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina begins to steal firewood for warmth. During one stealing session she runs into Andrius, relieved... (full context)
Chapter 51
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
On Christmas Eve, Lina works all day chopping food. Everyone brings their bread rations to eat together, and shares... (full context)
Chapter 52
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...are worked hard on Christmas Day. Elena gives Ulyushka a packet of cigarettes for Christmas. Lina gives Andrius a drawing of him, and Jonas gives him the oval stone that sparkled... (full context)
Chapter 53
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
One day Andrius runs into Lina’s shack, saying that the NKVD are looking for her. Lina reveals she stole a pen.... (full context)
Chapter 54
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina is brought to the kolkhoz office and the commander enters. Lina tries to make note... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The commander tells Kretszky to give Lina bread. Lina protests, since she was supposed to receive more as compensation. Jonas comes in... (full context)
Chapter 55
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Lina and Jonas go to the NKVD barracks and wait for Lina’s bread. Suddenly, drunken officers... (full context)
Chapter 56
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Lina tells Jonas to run ahead and tell Elena they’re safe while she tells Andrius she... (full context)
Chapter 57
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina, Elena, and Jonas eat all the food quickly in case the NKVD came back for... (full context)
Chapter 58
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
It is March 22, Lina’s 16th birthday, and Lina presumes everyone has forgotten, particularly since there is little to celebrate.... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
When Lina arrives at the shack, everyone shouts “Happy birthday”—it was a surprise party all along. Everyone... (full context)
Chapter 59
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...cousin, which reveals in coded words that Kostas is still alive. It is then that Lina tells her mother that she read the file and knows Kostas is in Krasnoyarsk. Time... (full context)
Chapter 60
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
On the first warm day of spring, Andrius takes Lina aside and warns her that people are being moved, and that while he is not... (full context)
Chapter 61
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...comes to the shack and speaks to Elena privately, and then asks to speak to Lina. They take a walk together, and discuss the impending relocation. Andrius tells Lina that he... (full context)
Chapter 62
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...daughters. Andrius comes to say goodbye, asking Jonas to write and saying that he’ll see Lina again one day, and when he does, he’ll give her back her drawings. Lina cries... (full context)
Chapter 63
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...in, including a woman and her very sick daughter. The girl with the doll tells Lina the NKVD shot her doll and then beat her when she cried. She says her... (full context)
Chapter 64
Genocide Theme Icon
...talks frequently about them going to America. In the middle of the night, Janina wakes Lina up and tells her the yellow girl is dead. The next day, guards drag her... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...family keeps them alive on the train, and they share it with others as well. Lina draws to pass the time. Janina asks the bald man if he is a Jew,... (full context)
Chapter 65
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...greets him as “Nikolai.” The deportees lie on the ground until morning, and Jonas and Lina speculate why Elena referred to Kretszky as “Nikolai.” The NKVD feed them mushroom soup and... (full context)
Chapter 66
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...banks of the river for more than a week. They are fed barley porridge, and Lina is worried about what is to come if the Soviets think they will need their... (full context)
Chapter 67
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...they are put on barges. Jonas wonders if they really are going to America, but Lina still doesn’t want to leave Kostas behind. In a flashback, Lina recalls Joana telling her... (full context)
Chapter 70
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...deportees to work at daybreak. They are divided into twenty-five groups, fifteen people per group. Lina is set to work building a jurta, a hut, but not using any building supplies... (full context)
Chapter 71
Genocide Theme Icon
...The older man reads the English words on the packages—delicious piles of food that make Lina’s mouth water—as the deportees are forced to carry the supplies to the NKVD barracks. Elena... (full context)
Chapter 72
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...deportees must chop logs for firewood but are not given any for themselves. Jonas and Lina set off to steal some of the wood. They notice that Elena is getting weaker,... (full context)
Chapter 73
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
They are sent back to work as soon as the storm breaks. Lina sees that some jurtas have been completely snowed in, and people have died inside. They... (full context)
Chapter 74
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina confronts Elena about why the family was deported. Elena says that they were planning to... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls showing Joana Munch’s pictures, and trying to express to Joana why she loves his... (full context)
Chapter 75
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...family pray for Kostas, and this is the only time Elena can muster a smile. Lina dreams of Andrius at night. A storm is coming, but Ivanov won’t give them a... (full context)
Chapter 76
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Lina cannot sleep. Every time she tries, she can only picture her father’s bloody face through... (full context)
Chapter 77
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...doors. Diseases run through the camp, and some people commit suicide. One day Janina points Lina to a huge, dead owl in the snow. Janina suggests that they eat it. Together... (full context)
Chapter 78
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...who repeats words quarantines himself in a jurta designated for the sick. Four days later, Lina sees his naked body, half-eaten by foxes, on a stack of corpses. In a flashback,... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Back on the tundra, Lina is enraged that people are dying left and right. Mrs. Rimas says all they can... (full context)
Chapter 79
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina practices the Russian words for “doctor,” “medicine,” “mother,” and “please.” She goes to the NKVD... (full context)
Chapter 80
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...throughout the morning, while Mrs. Rimas tries to feed her. She cannot eat or speak. Lina describes scenes of warmth and happiness to try and soothe her. Elena’s breathing becomes more... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls her Grandmother’s funeral. Jonas acknowledges how pretty she looks in her coffin, and Kostas... (full context)
Chapter 81
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina struggles to sleep that night, distraught over her the loss of her mother. She lies... (full context)
Chapter 82
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Lina paints a map to the gravesite so that she may remember where it is. The... (full context)
Chapter 83
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Lina is confused as to why she comforted Kretszky despite her deep hatred of the NKVD.... (full context)
Chapter 85
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Jonas slowly begins to heal, and Lina fantasizes about seeing her father again. When Lina goes to chop wood one day, she... (full context)
Epilogue
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...they were eventually released, the Soviets promised to kill anyone who spoke of the deportations. Lina is the author of the letters, and she writes that Andrius is her husband—she is... (full context)