Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray


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Between Shades of Gray: Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

The group is brought to a large collective farming area marked by one-room cabins. They are ordered off the trucks 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 living—and the woman begins to scream and yell. Elena says that the woman is claiming she has “no room for filthy criminals,” and has barely enough food for herself, let alone other people. Elena tells Jonas and Lina to put their stuff in the corner, but the woman grabs Lina’s hair in an attempt to throw her out. Elena slaps her and Jonas kicks her in the shin. Elena and the woman stare each other down, until the woman laughs. She tells Elena “feisty people make good workers,” and demands rent to let them stay. The farm grows beets and potatoes, rationed by the Communist guards. Lina recalls Kostas explaining the tenets of Communism to her—where everything is owned by Stalin and rationed out to the people. Lina realizes she is on a kolkhoz, a collective farm, and about to become a farmer. She notes that she hates beets.
As per the tenants of Soviet Communism, the deportees are forced to be a part of a collective farm, where they will work to grow food but will only receive a small portion of the collective produce. The family is forced to live in someone else’s home, which shows that the NKVD are an imposition not only on those who are branded criminals, but also on people whom they deem low enough to interrupt their entire lives. Though the other Lithuanians have thus far been generous and kind to one another, the woman in the shack seeks to improve her lot by demanding they pay her rent with money they do not have. They now see why the NKVD washed and fed them: they are to become laborers, but essentially slaves, in the camp.
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