City of Thieves

City of Thieves Chapter 25 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lev is again exhausted and his finger is extremely painful. Kolya appears to be treating their walk like a leisurely stroll. He finally asks Lev if he's ever told him the story of where the name The Courtyard Hound comes from. He explains that the hero, Radchenko, lives in an old multi-family building, and one night an old dog walks into the courtyard and makes it his home. Radchenko sees the dog the next morning and throws it some sausage. Radchenko hasn't left his apartment in five years, but each day he tosses the dog some food when the church bells ring.
Kolya's engagement with the march as though it's a stroll for pleasure ties back again to the way he views the war as a fantastic and detailed story in which he's trapped. Finally, the reader and Lev find out what The Courtyard Hound is about. In the final chapters of the novel, Kolya increasingly opens himself up for the potential criticism that he spent so long trying to avoid.
Themes
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
One morning, Radchenko wakes to the church bells, but sees that the hound is dead in the courtyard. Radchenko realizes that nobody will bury the dog because it technically didn't belong to anyone. Radchenko then leaves his apartment for the first time in seven years to bury the dog. Lev asks questions about where the dog will be buried and points out that Radchenko needs a shovel, and Kolya is annoyed. Kolya asks if Lev understands why The Courtyard Hound is such a great title, saying that all the women Radchenko sees aren't able to get him to go outside, but a dog can do what the women can't.
Lev gives Kolya exactly what he was trying to avoid—criticism, and an apparent lack of understanding of the sweeping, dramatic, and romantic story arc that Kolya has dreamed up. We also get a final glimpse of how Kolya personally views women. While they factor into the story of The Courtyard Hound in a sexual capacity, they're not allowed the power that the hound itself is.
Themes
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Kolya suddenly stops, eyes wide, and says that his long-awaited bowel movement is finally coming. He runs behind a tree and Lev waits, swaying and trying to not sleep. When Kolya returns, he tries to pull Lev to go look, but Lev refuses. They struggle for a moment and Kolya falls, and Lev yells that he doesn't want to look at Kolya's shit, he just wants to know if the eggs are broken. Kolya inspects the eggs, which are unbroken.
Finally, the absurd and humorous motifs of Kolya's bowel movements and the eggs converge and are pitted against each other. The moment is made tense as Lev and Kolya are reminded that as absurd as the eggs are, they're their ticket to survival, given that they're the only way to reclaim their ration cards.
Themes
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Lev and Kolya continue their march. Kolya declares that the colonel will invite them to his daughter's wedding, while Lev wonders where he's going to sleep now that the Kirov is gone. Kolya insists that Lev will stay with Sonya. Their conversation meanders from the chess match to the four girls in the farmhouse, and finally as they reach Piter's defenses, Kolya says he wants a piece of wedding cake.
Lev and Kolya pit depressed pessimism against grandiose optimism as they discuss their journey and where they'll go from here. In this moment, Lev and Kolya are portrayed as hopeful (if morose, in the case of Lev) young men, with an entire future ahead of them.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sexuality, Masculinity, and Power Theme Icon
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Kolya and Lev then hear a gunshot. They leap to the ground and Kolya yells that they're Russian. The soldiers instruct Lev and Kolya to stand and walk towards them. When Kolya tries to stand, he stumbles, and he and Lev notice a bullet hole in the seat of his pants. At the officer's instruction, Kolya throws his rifle away and yells that he can't walk because he's been shot. Lev helps Kolya kneel as Kolya laments having to explain his fate to his battalion, and the soldiers yell that they'll come out to Lev and Kolya.
Kolya believed himself unshakable, and as such is only willing to see the sense of humor and irony in being shot in the buttock by his own army. Notice that he focuses on having to explain what happened to him—it hasn't occurred to him yet that he might not survive this and be able to tell the tale at all.
Themes
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
Lev asks what he should do, and Kolya says to apply pressure, taking off his hat and pressing it to the wound. Kolya takes the box of eggs from under his sweater and hands it to Lev. An armored car rolls towards them and a sergeant and a lieutenant get out, insisting they did the right thing since Kolya had a German gun. Lev addresses the lieutenant and asks if they can help Kolya now and ask questions later, and the lieutenant threatens to kill him. Kolya offers the letter from Colonel Grechko to the officers, and they stiffen when they see the name. As Kolya prepares to yell at the lieutenant, he finally seems to understand that not speaking is best.
Kolya has survived the entire novel in spite of not staying silent, even when it might have served him better to not always speak his mind. This moment of choosing silence indicates Kolya's own coming of age. While Kolya has been portrayed as very adult throughout, he's experienced growth and development, although it's becoming apparent that this is the end of his journey. Lev too is exhibiting signs of adulthood by taking on the officers and demanding help.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
Kolya assures Lev that it's not that much blood, and the driver and another soldier carry Kolya to the car and arrange him in the backseat. Lev sits with him, applying pressure to the bullet hole. Kolya jokes that he'd rather Vika were touching him like that, but when Lev asks, he admits that the wound hurts. The lieutenant ignores Kolya's sarcastic barbs and tells them that they're taking him to the hospital at the Works. Kolya asks them to take Lev to the colonel after.
Both Lev and Kolya are attempting to tell stories that take away and distract from the terrible reality of the situation. The power of Colonel Grechko is apparent once again, and it's portrayed as the reason that Kolya is receiving what little help he is. Kolya hasn't given up yet, though; he remains focused on the task of the eggs.
Themes
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
The driver tells Lev that it's 8-10 minutes to the hospital. Lev and Kolya discuss how much blood a man can lose, and Kolya instructs Lev to dance with the colonel's daughter. The car is held up several times and Kolya is growing weaker by the minute, his lips blue. Lev asks for water and tries to offer some to Kolya. Kolya asks Lev if he likes the title for The Courtyard Hound, and they agree it's his best option.
Lev and Kolya continue to tell stories that distract Kolya from his pain and impending death. Kolya imparts his one final lesson regarding women to Lev when he insists Lev dance with the colonel's daughter. It's a symbolic statement, as both know that they're not actually going to be invited to the wedding. Kolya also finally receives some affirmation regarding The Courtyard Hound, the book so close to his heart.
Themes
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Kolya smiles at Lev, and they both know that Kolya is going to die. Lev narrates that Kolya's smile was a gift to try to make Lev's fear of death a little easier to bear. Kolya muses that he was shot in the ass by his own people. Lev wants to make a joke but can't come up with anything. Kolya says that this isn't how he pictured it.
Lev has to face another important scene of coming of age a mere 12 hours after killing Abendroth. This time, he's forced to face the death of a loved one right in front of his eyes. Kolya's final words allude to how he conceptualizes himself as a hero, not someone who gets shot by his own people.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Sexuality, Masculinity, and Power Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon