Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

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Drawing Symbol Icon

Lina’s drawings create an important connection between her life back home in Lithuania and her life in the Communist labor camps of Siberia. As she continues to sketch wherever she can—in the dirt on the train, on handkerchiefs, on scraps of paper—she recalls moments when her drawings brought her praise (such as when she was admitted to an art program) and when they brought her scolding (when her father discovers her caricatures of Stalin). Drawing is what maintains constancy in Lina’s life, despite her location or situation. Her drawings are also a way for Lina to connect with her father—Lina hopes that by documenting her journey through sketches, the drawings may one day make their way to Kostas such that he can determine where she, Elena, and Jonas have been imprisoned. The artist Edvard Munch, best known for his painting “The Scream,” particularly inspires Lina. Like Munch, Lina seeks to use her drawings to convey her emotions and view of the world, rather than a realistic image of what the world looks like. Lina’s drawings symbolize her humanity and determination to have hope for the future despite the misery of her current situation.

Drawing Quotes in Between Shades of Gray

The Between Shades of Gray quotes below all refer to the symbol of Drawing. 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 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.

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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 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 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.

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Drawing Symbol Timeline in Between Shades of Gray

The timeline below shows where the symbol Drawing appears in Between Shades of Gray. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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
...in the train car, and imagines it to be a rolling coffin. She begins to draw in the dirt on the floor to pass the time. People speculate as to where... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...listening to a librarian tell a fantastical story. As she listens to the tale, Lina draws the dragon and princess being described. She is so absorbed in her drawing that she... (full context)
Chapter 11
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...museum, and is enchanted by its subtleties. As soon as she gets home, she starts drawing and tries to create the blended charcoal technique. Back in the present, this memory makes... (full context)
Chapter 16
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...a flashback memory, Lina recalls when her teacher held her after class to show her drawings she had pulled out of the trash. Though Lina thinks she is in trouble for... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...others do the same. Suddenly, she realizes she can use the handkerchief to make a drawing indicating her whereabouts, and pass it along in the hopes it reaches her father. Meanwhile,... (full context)
Chapter 18
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...due to lice and the inability to move or wash. She passes the time by drawing images on the handkerchief—pictures that her father would be able to recognize as done by... (full context)
Chapter 19
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...She misses her father terribly, and imagines his smiling face. In a flashback, she recalls drawing a portrait of her father. They discuss her cousin Joana, who wants to be a... (full context)
Chapter 22
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...Lina comes over and discreetly asks her to borrow a handkerchief. Lina hands him the drawings, and he walks away with it. Lina knows he will pass it along in the... (full context)
Chapter 24
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...depicted as throwing paper airplanes at him. Kostas demands to know if there are more drawings like this, and Lina replies that there aren’t. Kostas is furious, because he is afraid... (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
...in the grass with Andrius. She notes his strong jaw line, and wishes she could draw him. He notes her looking at him, and gives her the beautiful stone he found... (full context)
Chapter 29
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...are at a soccer match. Lina reminds Elena that she also needs some charcoal for drawing. (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...she could talk to Kostas to answer all her questions. She also wishes she could draw the landscape and show it to him. Elena returns, and the family heads back to... (full context)
Chapter 30
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...only to speak to each other, and for Lina to be careful with what she draws. (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
...put anything dangerous in writing, and Lina guiltily thinks about her pages of writing and drawing. Elena hints to Mrs. Rimas that she has a “contact” who might help her out,... (full context)
Chapter 37
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...sent. The letter is tacked up next to the man—on it is a very crude drawing of a map with just a few lines. Lina thinks of her own detailed diagrams... (full context)
Chapter 38
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...rent. While Elena brings some food to the bald man, Elena hides her writing and drawings in the lining of her suitcase. Suddenly Lina realizes that Elena didn’t take a potato... (full context)
Chapter 40
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...boy Lina had danced with with another girl. Lina had hoped to give him a drawing she had made. Instead she is heartbroken, rips up the drawing, and concludes that boys... (full context)
Chapter 42
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
...her room. Bored by their politics anyway, she goes to her room and tries to draw the faces of the men by sound alone. Back in the shack, Lina notes that... (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
One 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... (full context)
Chapter 44
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...where her father is. Lina tries to commit the map to memory so she can draw it herself later. Though guards hover throughout her drawing, Lina manages to covertly drop a... (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
...and be quiet, she yells at her and leaves the shack with pen and paper. Drawing calms her down. Elena returns from meeting the grouchy woman who has posted her letters.... (full context)
Chapter 49
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...for her previous accusations. Andrius does not accept her apology. In the awkward silence, Lina sketches and thinks of how she misses her books from home. In a flashback, Lina recalls... (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 of him. He seems to... (full context)
Chapter 52
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...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 like jewelry, which Lina... (full context)
Chapter 53
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...stole a pen. Elena is alarmed, but Andrius clarifies that the commander wants Lina to draw his portrait. Lina wants to refuse to do it, but Andrius and Elena point out... (full context)
Chapter 54
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...her and asks her how old she is. Lina must continually remind herself not to draw him unflatteringly. She pretends not to understand the question. Lina wants to do the drawing... (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
...gives her a brief nod, indicating that the file was safely returned. That night Lina draws a picture of her house at home, signs it “with love from Miss Altai,” and... (full context)
Chapter 58
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...has chipped in and gotten Lina a pad of paper and a pencil stub to draw with. On the way back to the shack, Andrius approaches Lina and gives her Dombey... (full context)
Chapter 59
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
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...the next. New guards come and other guards go. Meanwhile, Lina grows bolder with her drawings, and creates some that are definitely anti-Soviet. Andrius asks her if she’s learned what the... (full context)
Chapter 61
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
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Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...father. They admit they don’t want to leave each other. Lina gives Andrius her secret drawings and asks him to keep them safe. He urges her to keep drawing. They kiss,... (full context)
Chapter 62
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...he’ll see Lina again one day, and when he does, he’ll give her back her drawings. Lina cries for the first time in months. As the truck she is loaded onto... (full context)
Chapter 64
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...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, and... (full context)
Chapter 67
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...America, because she can’t name a single accomplished American artist. Back on the barge, Lina draws the bald man despite his complaining. She asks him why he was deported, and he... (full context)
Chapter 76
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...hopes Kretszky had the wrong information, and that there is a mistake. She feels her drawings have failed. She tries to sketch, but is too upset even to do the thing... (full context)