Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray


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Between Shades of Gray: Chapter 54 Summary & Analysis

Lina is brought to the kolkhoz office and the commander enters. Lina tries to make note of his clothing and expression so she doesn’t have to look at him too much. The commander tells Lina to take off her coat, but she refuses, saying it is cold. He ogles 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 quickly, but the commander insists on taking frequent smoke breaks. As she is close to completing the drawing, the commander asks her questions about herself, such as how long she has been drawing and who her favorite artist is. Lina tells him it is Munch. She hands the finished drawing to the commander, and notices a file on the desk—the one for her family.
Lina is perturbed by the way the commander asks her questions about herself. Up until this point, the NKVD have only ever treated the deportees as less than human—not as real people with artistic interests. The commander’s leering gaze, his request for Lina to take off her coat, and his question of her age suggests he has ulterior motives of a potentially sexual nature. Lina’s refusal to engage seems to successfully divert his attention and allow her to be left alone.
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The commander tells Kretszky to give Lina bread. Lina protests, since she was supposed to receive more as compensation. Jonas comes in and tells Lina she is allowed to go to the kitchen to get bread. Lina argues that she asked for potatoes. In a rush, while gathering extra paper, Lina steals the file and shoves it in her coat.
As Elena theorized when the NKVD asked her to be a translator for preferential treatment, they are full of empty promises. Though Lina has asked for one thing, they give her another, and there is nothing she can do about it.
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