Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray


Ruta Sepetys

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Between Shades of Gray: Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

While it is still dark the next morning, the NKVD yell at the 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 Elena and Lina for work. Lina and Elena are then brought to a clearing in the woods and told to dig a pit, using rusty hand shovels. Elena theorizes that she is being punished for refusing to spy for the NKVD. Elena and Mrs. Rimas discuss rumors that there is a town five kilometers away, with a store, post office, and school. Elena wonders if they can send letters, and find out where the men have been sent. Mrs. Rimas warns Elena not to 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, and Lina wonders who it could be. Mrs. Rimas’ housemate has told her that while the villagers are not happy about the influx of Lithuanians, it was to be expected: Estonians were dumped on a neighboring village. The Soviets have deported Estonians and Latvians as well. Mrs. Rimas theorizes that hundreds of thousands of people will be deported.
Though the NKVD want the women to work, it is clearly more a torture exercise than a method of productivity. The women bend over backwards attempting to dig the frozen dirt with handle-less shovels. This is a method of humiliation for the pleasure and humor of the sadistic NKVD officers. Elena hints that she has an outside “contact” she can use to receive information, which reveals that she has planned for a possible arrest more than Lina or Jonas realized. Mrs. Rimas and Elena theorize that Stalin will subjugate even more Lithuanians using even more arbitrary arrests, so that he can harness even greater control over the lands he has annexed during the war.
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