Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray


Ruta Sepetys

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Between Shades of Gray makes teaching easy.

Between Shades of Gray: Chapter 78 Summary & Analysis

Christmas arrives, and the deportees are glad that they’ve made it through half the winter. While they freeze and starve, the guards enjoy sumptuous food and warm fires. Elena becomes even weaker. The lice bring typhus, and the man who repeats words quarantines himself in a jurta designated for the sick. Four days later, Lina sees his naked body, half-eaten by foxes, on a stack of corpses. In a flashback, Lina recalls Elena asking her to move her Munch book off of the dining table, since she finds the images ghastly. Yet despite the imagery of rotting bodies, Lina finds the work beautiful. Kostas tells her she is beautiful for seeing the work that way.
As people become weaker and thus even sicker, they begin to quarantine themselves with the other sick, even though it means certain death—with no medical supplies, there is no chance for recovery, and the best that the ill can do is try and prevent the spread of their disease to those who are still relatively healthy. Lina recalls, how she used to find Munch’s images of rotting flesh and dead bodies beautiful. Now, however, seeing them in reality is anything but beautiful—even if it adds another element of truth to Munch’s dark work.
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Back on the tundra, Lina is enraged that people are dying left and right. Mrs. Rimas says all they can do is pray. In the jurta, Elena tells Lina to apologize to Kretszky for saying she hated him. Elena reveals that he once helped her escape from near-rape by other guards. He drove her back to safety, and was punished for aiding her. That is why he was demoted to Trofimovsk. Lina still has no sympathy for him. Soon Elena grows very ill and is running a high fever. She complains of the cold, and they all huddle together for warmth.
Even when Elena reveals that Kretszky showed her kindness when he saved her from being raped and potentially murdered by other guards, Lina has no sympathy for him. Kretszky only showed Elena the courtesy any decent human being should show another, and yet still continued to torture them, showing what Lina believes to be his true, evil nature.
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon