Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As the train rolls along the countryside, Lina reports to the other passengers what she sees. It is June, and the countryside of Lithuania is beautiful. Eventually, they arrive at Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Though she has never visited, Lina recalls learning the history of Vilnius at school. It is a symbol of power and opportunity for Lithuanians.
Since Vilnius is a symbol of Lithuanian power, seeing the Soviets occupy the city is even more of a blow to the pride of the Lithuanian deportees. Their livelihoods, families, and friends, have been taken away, and now even their national identity has fallen prey to the Soviet Union.
Themes
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
In 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 drawing instead of paying attention to her lessons, her teacher praises her ability and says she has already spoken to her parents about sending her to an art academy in Vilnius for the summer. Her teacher says she will help her with the application, and that Lina has a bright future as an artist ahead of her.
Lina’s talent as an artist has been evident from a young age, and it is clear to anyone who sees her work. This memory shows what a supportive network Lina had around her at home in Kaunas—everyone, from her family, friends, and teachers, was eager to see her grow as an artist. This is in stark contrast to her life as a deportee.
Themes
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Back in the train, someone finds a loose board and wiggles it open. Jonas peers through and sees men approaching the train. Though the bald man thinks they are partisans who might be able to help 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 men singing the Lithuanian national anthem. The passengers join in, and Lina weeps.
Despite seeing Lithuania’s symbol of power overtaken by the NKVD, the Lithuanian deportees are determined to express their patriotism. This show of love for Lithuania brings so much emotion for Lina that she weeps. Though the NKVD may have taken over their country and taken them from their homes, they cannot take their sense of common identity.
Themes
Strength and Identity Theme Icon