Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

Kostas Vilkas Character Analysis

Kostas is Lina and Jonas’ father, and a professor at the local university. Though he is only seen in one episode throughout the novel, Lina often reminisces of good times she had with her father, who was loving and supportive of her artistic talents. Elena, Lina, and Jonas grieve deeply over their separation from Kostas, as able-bodied men were sent to different locations from women, children, and the infirm. Kostas’ brief words to Lina when she discovers him through the hole in a train car give her hope and inspiration throughout the most difficult of times in the labor camps. Kostas and his colleagues engaged in secret meetings where they discussed the impending political climate due to the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states. These meetings reveal Kostas’ commitment to freedom and revolution against totalitarianism. However, when Lina exhibits similarly negative sentiments towards the Soviets, Kostas becomes angry and implores her to keep her opinions to herself for her own safety. Despite his revolutionary politics, Kostas’ commitment is first and foremost to the safety of his family.

Kostas Vilkas Quotes in Between Shades of Gray

The Between Shades of Gray quotes below are all either spoken by Kostas Vilkas or refer to Kostas Vilkas. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Speak edition of Between Shades of Gray published in 2012.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“But what did you do?” I asked him.
“Nothing, Lina. Have you finished your homework?”
“But you must have done something to deserve free bread,” I pressed.
“I don’t deserve anything. You stand for what is right, Lina, without the expectation of gratitude or reward. Now, off to your homework.”

Related Characters: Kostas Vilkas (speaker), Lina Vilkas
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Chapter 11 Quotes

“You’re very brave to have come. You must all stay together. I know you’ll take good care of your sister and mother while I am away.”
“I will, Papa, I promise,” said Jonas. “When will we see you?”
Papa paused. “I don’t know. Hopefully soon.”
I clutched the bundle of clothes. Tears began dropping down my cheeks.
“Don’t cry, Lina. Courage,” said Papa. “You can help me.”
“Do you understand?” My father looked at Andrius, hesitant. “You can help me find you,” he whispered. “I’ll know it’s you…just like you know Munch. But you must be very careful.”

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Jonas Vilkas (speaker), Kostas Vilkas (speaker), Elena Vilkas, Andrius Arvydas
Related Symbols: Drawing
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 22 Quotes

The man who wound his watch approached me.
“Do you have a handkerchief I could borrow?” he asked.
I nodded and quickly handed him the hankie, neatly folded to conceal my writing…The man patted his brow with the handkerchief before putting it in his pocket. Pass it along, I thought, imagining the hankie traveling hand to hand until it reached Papa.

Related Characters: Lina Vilkas (speaker), Kostas Vilkas
Related Symbols: Drawing
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Kostas Vilkas Character Timeline in Between Shades of Gray

The timeline below shows where the character Kostas Vilkas appears in Between Shades of Gray. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...mother, and brother are being arrested, and that she has no idea where her father Kostas is. Elena urges Lina to pack quickly and to ignore friends and family members they... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
...charge her for the food, citing her father’s kindness. When Lina asks her parents what Kostas did to deserve such reverence, her father tells Lina that he deserves nothing—that it is... (full context)
Chapter 4
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...spinster teacher from school, the librarian, a hotel owner, and other men Lina has seen Kostas speak to. Lina realizes they are all on the NKVD’s list. (full context)
Chapter 5
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...hide it beneath her legs. A man asks Elena if she is the wife of Kostas Vilkas, provost at the university, and she nods yes, looking nervous and wringing her hands. (full context)
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...Elena was wringing her hands. Elena asked Lina to bring a pot of coffee to Kostas and other men who had been talking in the dining room for hours. When she... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
Back in the present in the truck, the bald man tactlessly says that if Kostas worked at the university, then he was surely “long gone.” Another man tells Jonas he... (full context)
Chapter 9
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...Mrs. Rimas. Lina wonders where the woman’s husband is, and whether he might be with Kostas. A small girl asks Lina whether she is going to bed, and Lina realizes she... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...jewelry she and Elena wear, and how the photographer noted that Lina looks just like Kostas. (full context)
Chapter 10
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...and unaccustomed to dirt.” Jonas wonders if he will be let out to look for Kostas at the station, but Andrius says he saw someone beaten for trying to run away.... (full context)
Chapter 11
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...the train cars, asking for their fathers via bathroom holes. Eventually Jonas and Lina find Kostas. Lina and Jonas are extremely relieved to have found their father, but are shocked and... (full context)
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Kostas then gives Lina his wedding ring and tells her to give it to Elena in... (full context)
Chapter 12
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...searches them, and lets them go. Elena is upset with them, but relieved they found Kostas. When Lina gives her the ring, she begins to cry. Lina tries to give Elena... (full context)
Chapter 13
Genocide Theme Icon
...baby refuses to eat, and both mother and child continually cry. Elena asks Lina how Kostas looked, and Lina lies and says he looked fine. She asks Elena why they are... (full context)
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...create the blended charcoal technique. Back in the present, this memory makes Lina realize that Kostas mentioned Munch because Lina’s art, like Munch’s, has a very distinct technique. Lina sees now... (full context)
Chapter 18
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...to her father. He agrees to help pass it along so that it may reach Kostas. (full context)
Chapter 19
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...to be a doctor. Lina has written her a note but hasn’t heard back, which Kostas attributes to her hard studying. Joana is seventeen, and Lina looks up to her very... (full context)
Chapter 22
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...it. Lina knows he will pass it along in the hopes that it will reach Kostas. People then arrive on horse-drawn carts. Lina does not recognize them, but notes that their... (full context)
Chapter 24
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...the Soviets. Andrius notes that she has a “mouthful of opinions,” and Jonas notes that Kostas always told Lina to be careful. (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls Kostas finding a caricature Lina drew of Stalin such that he was wearing a clown suit.... (full context)
Chapter 27
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...home, and Elena tells her they must keep the dream of their home and of Kostas alive in order to persevere. The group reconvenes. The bald man complains they are now... (full context)
Chapter 28
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 29
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...They sit and enjoy the ice cream and their day of shopping while Jonas and Kostas are at a soccer match. Lina reminds Elena that she also needs some charcoal for... (full context)
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...urges Lina not to make trouble—or risk Ona’s fate. Lina wishes she could talk to Kostas to answer all her questions. She also wishes she could draw the landscape and show... (full context)
Chapter 31
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina remembers receiving her acceptance letter for the art school in Vilnius. Kostas and Elena are elated on her behalf, and Lina can’t wait to tell Joana. The... (full context)
Chapter 35
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...who oversees the digging: Kretszky. Lina tells Andrius she wants to send a letter to Kostas in the nearby post office, and Andrius tells her to be careful what she writes.... (full context)
Chapter 40
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...in the shack, Elena chastises Lina for resisting Andrius’ attempts at friendship. She notes that Kostas was quite clumsy in his courtship of her. Elena recalls that when trying to talk... (full context)
Chapter 41
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...case they get a chance to post letters, Lina and Elena write cryptic letters to Kostas and Elena’s “contact.” (full context)
Chapter 42
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
In a flashback, Lina recalls listening to Kostas and his friends speak about politics in hushed voices. They argue whether Stalin or Hitler... (full context)
Chapter 45
Genocide Theme Icon
...Lina recalls Jonas noting that a classmate was sent to the principal for mentioning hell. Kostas asks Jonas why the friend had mentioned hell, and Jonas replies that he was repeating... (full context)
Chapter 50
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...vodka, and Elena calls for a toast to good friends. That night, Lina fantasizes about Kostas joining them for the celebration. In a flashback, Lina recalls Kostas being late for dinner... (full context)
Chapter 56
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...and that her father is in a prison in Krasnoyarsk. There is another word describing Kostas’ criminal charges, but Andrius claims he can’t read the word. Andrius is angry that Lina... (full context)
Chapter 57
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...woman to pass it along to someone in town so that it may get to Kostas in Krasnoyarsk prison. Lina tries to bribe her, but the woman doesn’t accept it and... (full context)
Chapter 59
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...slush. Elena receives a letter from her housekeeper’s cousin, which reveals in coded words that Kostas is still alive. It is then that Lina tells her mother that she read the... (full context)
Chapter 60
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
...tell Elena, who optimistically theorizes that they are perhaps going someplace better or closer to Kostas. In a flashback, Lina recalls listening to her parents discuss trying to arrange passage for... (full context)
Chapter 66
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...pass along letters. Lina sends a slat of wood with the hopes it will reach Kostas. One day, when Lina and Elena wade into the river, Jonas worriedly tells them to... (full context)
Chapter 67
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...wonders if they really are going to America, but Lina still doesn’t want to leave Kostas behind. In a flashback, Lina recalls Joana telling her about fashionable universities in America. Lina... (full context)
Chapter 73
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...deported, and it is because of her uncle, Petras Vilkas. Since Lina’s aunt is German, Kostas helped the family repatriate to Germany. The Soviets found out, and Kostas was charged with... (full context)
Chapter 74
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...uncle’s family moved to Germany, someone tipped off the Soviets and searched their house, revealing Kostas’ hand in the matter. Elena is angry the bald man told Lina, since she had... (full context)
Chapter 75
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
November comes, and Elena grows more despondent. The family pray for Kostas, and this is the only time Elena can muster a smile. Lina dreams of Andrius... (full context)
Chapter 78
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Chapter 80
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...Lina recalls her Grandmother’s funeral. Jonas acknowledges how pretty she looks in her coffin, and Kostas say she is watching them all from above. He explains death using an anecdote of... (full context)
Chapter 81
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
Women and Mothers Theme Icon
...suitcase. They discover that she had a clean set of clothes for both herself and Kostas—she intended to return back to Lithuania in this clothing. Both women begin to cry. They... (full context)
Chapter 84
Morality, Integrity, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Strength and Identity Theme Icon
Genocide Theme Icon
...ten days. Lina gives him letters for Andrius, and the doctor expresses his doubt that Kostas is actually dead—he theorizes there is a chance Ivanov was lying. When Lina asks how... (full context)