City of Thieves

Lev Beniov Character Analysis

The protagonist of the novel; a 17-year-old Jewish boy who has grown up in Leningrad. He is the son of Mother and Abraham Beniov, a famous poet who was arrested by the Soviet government years earlier and never returned. His older sister is Taisya, and the narrator of the prologue, David, is his grandson. Lev is an excellent chess player but is also a weak, acne-ridden, fearful teenager who doesn't think that any women will find him attractive. Even so, he dreams of being a war hero. When he's arrested for looting he gets arrested by the Russian police and ends up meeting the more mature and confident Kolya. The two are then sent on an absurd journey to find eggs for a Russian colonel's daughter's wedding cake. Throughout his journey Lev carries a stolen German knife, and makes the transition from boy to man when he uses it to stab Abendroth. But this transition to manhood is as much one of disillusionment as it is about gaining maturity. He has to confront his greatest fear, death, when Kolya is shot and dies, and finally learns that he isn't even the hero of his own absurd quest when he discovers that Colonel Grechko already had eggs. Despite his disillusionment at his dreams of being a hero, he does fall in love with Vika and the two marry sometime after the end of the novel. Lev becomes a man, in that he gains wisdom about the world and himself, but that wisdom also involves a loss of innocence.

Lev Beniov Quotes in City of Thieves

The City of Thieves quotes below are all either spoken by Lev Beniov or refer to Lev Beniov. 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:
Growing Up Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of City of Thieves published in 2009.
Chapter 1 Quotes

But I wasn't leaving Piter. I was a man, I would defend my city, I would be a Nevsky for the twentieth century.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Mother
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

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I'd like to say I missed them when they were gone, and some nights I was lonely, and always I missed my mother's cooking, but I had fantasized about being on my own since I was little. My favorite folktales featured resourceful orphans... I wouldn't say I was happy—we were all too hungry to be happy—but I believed that here at last was the Meaning.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Mother, Taisya
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

... maybe they would miss on purpose because they knew I was a patriot and a defender of the city and I had snuck out of the Kirov only because a German had fallen five thousand meters onto my street, and what seventeen-year-old Russian boy would not sneak outside to peek at a dead Fascist?

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker)
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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... Contrary to popular belief, the experience of terror does not make you braver. Perhaps, though, it is easier to hide your fear when you're afraid all the time.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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So many great Russians endured long stretches in prison. That night I learned I would never be a great Russian.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker)
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

She wants a real wedding, a proper wedding. This is good, life must continue, we're fighting barbarians but we must remain human, Russian. So we will have music, dancing... a cake.

Related Characters: Colonel Grechko (speaker), Lev Beniov, Kolya Vlasov, The Colonel's Daughter
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

The secret to winning a woman is calculated neglect.

Related Characters: Kolya Vlasov (speaker), Lev Beniov
Related Symbols: The Courtyard Hound, Radchenko, and Ushakovo
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

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None of them got out. If you want to tell yourself something sweet to help you sleep, go ahead, but it's a lie.

Related Characters: Kolya Vlasov (speaker), Lev Beniov
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

Everything about the war was ridiculous: The Germans' barbarity, the Party's propaganda, the crossfire of incendiary bullets that lit the nighttime sky. It all seemed to him like someone else's story, an amazingly detailed story that he had stumbled into and now could not escape.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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I'm not bringing them out here. Everyone's starving and everyone's got a gun.

Related Characters: The Giant (speaker), Lev Beniov, Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

You couldn't let too much truth seep into your conversation, you couldn't admit with your mouth what your eyes had seen. If you opened the door even a centimeter, you would smell the rot outside and hear the screams. You did not open the door. You kept your mind on the tasks of the day, the hunt for food and water and something to burn, and you saved the rest for the end of the war.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov, The Giant, The Giant's Wife
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

Sonya was lovely and kind, but her pleasure was awful to listen to—I wanted to be the one who could transport a pretty girl away from the siege with my cock.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov, Sonya Ivanova
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

Kolya stared into the distance, contemplating the lieutenant's words. He must have thought they were profound. To me they sounded manufactured, the kind of line my father always hated, fake dialogue invented by some Party-approved journalist for one of those "Heroes at the Front!" articles Truth for Young Pioneers always ran.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov, Abraham Beniov (Lev’s Father)
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

I was cursed with the pessimism of both the Russians and the Jews, two of the gloomiest tribes in the world. Still, if there wasn't greatness in me, maybe I had the talent to recognize it in others, even the most irritating of others.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Don't worry, my friend. I won't let you die."
I was seventeen and stupid and I believed him.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov (speaker)
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

It seemed wonderfully abstract to me, somebody else's war. Wherever they dropped their bombs, it wouldn't be on me.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker)
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15 Quotes

And there was the excellent possibility of death. I never understood people who said their greatest fear was public speaking, or spiders, or any of the other minor terrors. How could you fear anything more than death?

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:

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This is all very strange, I thought. I am in the middle of a battle and I am aware of my own thoughts, I am worried about how stupid I look with a knife in my hand while everyone else came to fight with rifles and machine guns. I am aware that I am aware. Even now, with bullets buzzing through the air like angry hornets, I cannot escape the chatter of my brain.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 17 Quotes

Kolya considered himself a bit of a bohemian, a free thinker, but in his own way he was as much a true believer as any Young Pioneer. The worst part about it was that I didn't think he was wrong.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

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Kolya seemed fearless, but everyone has fear in them somewhere; fear is part of our inheritance... Cannibals and Nazis didn't make Kolya nervous, but the threat of embarrassment did—the possibility that a stranger might laugh at the lines he'd written.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov
Related Symbols: The Courtyard Hound, Radchenko, and Ushakovo
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

At a distance it seemed beautiful, and I thought it was strange that powerful violence is often so pleasing to the eye, like tracer bullets at night.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov, Vika, Korsakov
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

"We're pawns and he's a rook, that's what you're saying."
"We're less than pawns. Pawns have value."
"If we can take a rook, we have value, too."

Related Characters: Kolya Vlasov (speaker), Vika (speaker), Lev Beniov, Abendroth
Related Symbols: Chess
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

I have never been much of a patriot. My father would not have allowed such a thing while he lived, and his death insured that his wish was carried out. Piter commanded far more affection and loyalty from me than the nation as a whole. But that night, running across the unplowed fields of winter wheat, with the Fascist invaders behind us and the dark Russian woods before us, I felt a surge of pure love for my country.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov, Vika, Abendroth, Abraham Beniov (Lev’s Father)
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 25 Quotes

Kolya had no faith in the divine or the afterlife; he didn't think he was going to a better place, or any place at all. No angels waited to collect him. He smiled because he knew how terrified I was of dying. This is what I believe. He knew I was terrified and he wanted to make it a little easier for me.

Related Characters: Lev Beniov (speaker), Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 26 Quotes

"Those words you want to say right now? Don't say them." He smiled and cuffed my cheek with something close to real affection. "And that, my friend, is the secret to living a long life."

Related Characters: Colonel Grechko (speaker), Lev Beniov, Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lev Beniov Character Timeline in City of Thieves

The timeline below shows where the character Lev Beniov appears in City of Thieves. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Growing Up Theme Icon
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
David, the narrator of the prologue, tells the reader that his grandfather (Lev) killed two Germans in a knife fight before he was 18, and that this knowledge... (full context)
Chapter 1
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
The narrator changes from David to Lev, and it's New Year's Eve 1941 in Leningrad, Russia. Everyone is hungrier and colder than... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
On New Year's Eve, Lev sits on the roof of his apartment building, the Kirov, watching for German bombers. He's... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...a German man falling from the sky. He appears to be dead already, and Vera, Lev, and the twins wonder if the Germans are finally starting a massive drop of paratroopers.... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
Lev, Vera, Oleg, and Grisha don't hear the car coming until it has already turned onto... (full context)
Chapter 2
Growing Up Theme Icon
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
Lev shares that if you grew up in Piter (the nickname for Leningrad), you grew up... (full context)
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
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Finally Lev hears footsteps and a key in the cell door, and by lamplight two guards shove... (full context)
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Lev wonders if he and Kolya will be shot in the morning, and Kolya replies that... (full context)
Chapter 3
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After dawn, two guards rouse Lev and Kolya, laughing at Kolya's jokes. The guards lead Lev and Kolya outside to a... (full context)
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The soldiers stop at the old family’s mansion and lead Lev and Kolya inside, where they see dozens of NKVD (Soviet secret police) officers hurrying about... (full context)
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Lev and Kolya are pushed into a sunroom where a man sits at a desk on... (full context)
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Returning to the window, the colonel confirms that Lev's father was the poet. He commands an aide to bring Lev and Kolya breakfast, and... (full context)
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Lev realizes that the colonel's teeth are false, and suddenly knows that the colonel had been... (full context)
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...thief, but the colonel shuts him down. Turning back to the mansion, the colonel takes Lev and Kolya's ration cards and instructs them to return with eggs by sunrise Thursday. Kolya... (full context)
Chapter 4
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As Lev and Kolya walk back across the bridge from Kamenny Island, Kolya insists that the colonel's... (full context)
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Lev thinks about the colonel's daughter skating naked, and Kolya seems aware of Lev's thoughts and... (full context)
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...Kolya says that he was stationed at the fortress when the zoo was bombed. When Lev replies that he heard there were animals running around the city, Kolya says it's a... (full context)
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The Haymarket is six kilometers away, and Lev describes the city as they walk through it. Nevsky Prospekt is a ghost street now,... (full context)
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Lev says he wasn't worried about losing the knife to Kolya because he already knew everyone... (full context)
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...he once took a girl, and begins to explain his theory of calculated neglect to Lev. He asks Lev if there's a girl he likes, and Lev suggests Vera. When Lev... (full context)
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Lev and Kolya walk past young boys whitewashing over street signs and building numbers. Kolya accuses... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Lev describes the Haymarket as the poor man's Nevsky Prospekt before the war. Though the shops... (full context)
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...old man selling what he claims is vodka, but what Kolya insists is wood alcohol. Lev tries to steer Kolya away but Kolya ignores him, telling the man the dangers of... (full context)
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The man and Kolya face off, and Lev shares with the reader that danger made Kolya calm. He says for Kolya, the war... (full context)
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The man growls at Kolya and Lev to move on. Lev and Kolya continue through the market, asking for eggs. An old... (full context)
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Lev hears a voice asking him if he's looking for eggs, and turns to see a... (full context)
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Lev, Kolya, and the giant approach a five-story brick building. The giant unlocks the door and... (full context)
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...his skull was smashed with a brick. Kolya, cheerful, steps into the apartment building and Lev, terrified, follows, thinking that their small amount of money and ration cards, which the giant... (full context)
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The giant leads Lev and Kolya up the stairs, and Lev quietly puts his knife in his pocket. The... (full context)
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Lev runs to the landing on the floor below and listens to the fight taking place... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Lev and Kolya, having decided to spend the night in Lev’s apartment at the Kirov, talk... (full context)
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Lev apologizes for not going back to save Kolya, which Kolya laughs at, admitting that he... (full context)
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Sirens begin and Kolya announces that Fritz (the German army) is coming. He and Lev walk faster and listen to the shells from German bombers landing near the Kirov Works,... (full context)
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When they resume their march, Kolya and Lev begin arguing over the evacuation of famous people from the city. Lev insists that it'd... (full context)
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Lev and Kolya turn onto Lev's street and suddenly Lev comes face to face with a... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...friend, a young woman who must have been beautiful before the war, welcomes Kolya and Lev into the house. Kolya introduces her as Sonya Ivanova, and one of his early “conquests.”... (full context)
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Sonya assures Lev that none of them are as bohemian as they think they are. Kolya says that... (full context)
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Lev feels better hearing the rumor of survivors, and accepts a cup of tea from Sonya.... (full context)
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Lev notes that after Kolya's speech, the dynamic in the room has shifted to spotlight Kolya... (full context)
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That night, Lev sleeps in the sitting room, sharing blankets with the surgeons and nurses, while Kolya and... (full context)
Chapter 8
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The following morning, Lev and Kolya are standing outside a building near the Narva Gate, where the boy in... (full context)
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Lev asks if the soldier stopped crying. Kolya says that wasn't the point. The point is... (full context)
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Kolya tries to engage Lev in conversation, but Lev remains grumpy, telling Kolya to "go fuck a pig." Kolya is... (full context)
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Before Kolya can move on to what makes a dream lover, he and Lev see two teenage girls coming towards the building towing buckets of ice. Kolya offers to... (full context)
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Lev thinks he likes Sonya, and thinks that the thought of her is keeping him from... (full context)
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...girls, they offer to give them some soup when they come back down. Kolya and Lev head for the roof and are shocked to see an actual chicken coop. Kolya knocks... (full context)
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Kolya asks the boy if he needs water, but Lev sees that the boy is very weak. Kolya suggests they bring the old man to... (full context)
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As Kolya tries to convince the boy to leave the coop, Lev notices that there's something moving under the boy's coat. Kolya offers the boy money for... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Back at Sonya's apartment, she, Lev, and Kolya sit around the stove drinking tea. The chicken sits in a nesting box... (full context)
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Lev laments that the chicken won't lay 12 eggs by Thursday, let alone live until then.... (full context)
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Lev and Sonya decide that the chicken probably needs water, but nobody moves. They're hungry and... (full context)
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...of nowhere, Kolya says that he hates Natasha Rostov, a character from War and Peace. Lev, half asleep, thinks that he can't help but liking someone who despises a fictional character... (full context)
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...on "panic mongers" and "rumor spreaders," and saying that Death is afraid of Leningrad. When Lev snorts at the passionate speech, Kolya asks if Lev doesn't like Gerasimov, saying that he's... (full context)
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Angrily, Lev says that Gerasimov is worse than a Party salesman, saying that the man claims to... (full context)
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Sonya, confused, says she isn't familiar with Lev's father and asks who he was. Kolya says that he was a great poet, and... (full context)
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The surgeon Timofei enters the apartment and joins Lev, Sonya, and Kolya at the stove. When he notices the chicken, Timofei pulls onions out... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...Sonya had obtained a potato and traded some broth for vodka, and by midnight Sonya, Lev, Kolya, and Timofei are drunk and full. While Sonya and Kolya are occupied in the... (full context)
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Before dawn, Kolya wakes Lev and hands him a cup of tea. Timofei is still out cold, snoring. Kolya studies... (full context)
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Kolya tells Lev to get his boots on, because they're going to Mga. There's enough authority in Kolya's... (full context)
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Lev feels like he hates Kolya, who he thinks probably still stinks of sex, and who... (full context)
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...they have to leave now if they want to make it with daylight left, and Lev thinks that sleeping makes more sense than heading to Mga, but he knows he'll follow.... (full context)
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Lev follows Kolya to the front door, but before they leave, Lev insists they sit, since... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Kolya walks on a rail of the train tracks like it's a balance beam, and Lev trudges along behind. They pass a crew of women working to turn a post office... (full context)
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...begins to tell a joke about three boys trying to steal chickens from a farmer. Lev refuses to play along, and Kolya asks if Lev is in love with Sonya, and... (full context)
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Kolya asks if Lev knows why the town is called Mga. Lev suggests it's someone's initials, and Kolya says... (full context)
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Lev and Kolya see a group of dead bodies lying facedown in the snow, their boots... (full context)
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Around noon, Lev and Kolya reach the edge of Leningrad's defenses. A sergeant approaches them and asks for... (full context)
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The sergeant apologizes for stopping Kolya and Lev, and says that he knows all about their mission organizing the partisans (guerrilla resistance fighters... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Kolya and Lev march through the woods outside of Leningrad. It's German-controlled territory, but there's no sign of... (full context)
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...He spears the note to a tree and lights it on fire, and he and Lev continue their march. (full context)
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After an hour, Kolya asks Lev if Jews believe in the afterlife. Lev explains that it depends on the Jew; his... (full context)
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Lev thinks that it seems odd to speak about his father, and that the words seem... (full context)
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Both Lev and Kolya hear a howl. Kolya begins to follow the sound, and Lev follows Kolya... (full context)
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Kolya instructs Lev to follow him to the still-living dog, telling him to not get too close to... (full context)
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Kolya asks Lev for his knife and approaches the sheepdog, who has finally given up on reaching the... (full context)
Chapter 13
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The detour to the clearing ruined any chances Lev and Kolya had for making it to Mga by nightfall, and they walk fast to... (full context)
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Lev and Kolya are walking past Berezovka, a name Lev is familiar with because it was... (full context)
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...continues, saying that with the Germans, you die whether or not you fight or surrender. Lev thinks that this assessment, while true, misses the fact that the Germans don't care about... (full context)
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Lev changes the subject to the disappearing light, and Kolya says they can build a dugout.... (full context)
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Suddenly Kolya puts his hand on Lev's chest and gestures to a Russian soldier standing with his back to them, 100 meters... (full context)
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East of Berezovka, Lev and Kolya spot a farmhouse with lit windows and smoke coming out of the chimney.... (full context)
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Kolya catches up to Lev and says they don't have to be stupid about it. He leads Lev behind the... (full context)
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...his pistol so she can see. After conferring with the other girls, the girl lets Lev and Kolya inside and into the great room. The youngest girl looks ready to cry... (full context)
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Lev says that in some ways, he's very stupid, even though he feels he's more intelligent... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Lev and Kolya soon make peace with the girls. The girls haven't spoken to anyone but... (full context)
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The girls give Lev and Kolya tea, bread, and baked potatoes with butter. Kolya asks if the soldiers ever... (full context)
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Lara asks if Lev and Kolya are organizing partisans, and Kolya offers a swaggering non-answer that doesn't impress the... (full context)
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Lev explains to the reader that Russians had gotten a crash course in German since the... (full context)
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...who visit them make bets on who can hit different buildings in Leningrad for fun. Lev thinks of the Kirov again and wonders if Vera, Oleg, and Grisha are dead because... (full context)
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...night. Kolya asks why the girls don't walk away, citing the fact that he and Lev left Piter at dawn and made it to the farmhouse. Nina, offended, asks if he... (full context)
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...minutes of silence, Kolya confirms with the girls that the German soldiers come at midnight. Lev thinks he won't be able to sleep after hearing about Zoya. Kolya tells Lara and... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Lara leads Lev and Kolya to a bedroom in the back of the house. She and Kolya come... (full context)
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Lev suggests they leave, and says he can't stop thinking about Zoya. Kolya instructs him to... (full context)
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...up his supposed “Gypsy” blood, saying he can read the future and that he and Lev are going to kill some Nazis and find eggs. Kolya continues, saying that he'll make... (full context)
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Lev forgets his fear for a moment, but it soon comes back to him stronger than... (full context)
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Kolya leans down from the top bunk at Lev, looking concerned, and Lev muses that Kolya is the only one who knows he's still... (full context)
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Lev asks about how talking to Galina fits in with calculated neglect, and Kolya explains the... (full context)
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Lev and Kolya's conversation is interrupted by two clangs of a spoon against a pot as... (full context)
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Kolya and Lev are startled by unexpected rifle shots and the sound of panicked German shouting. Kolya runs... (full context)
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As Kolya is about to open the door, Lev notes that it's quiet outside. Kolya opens the door a tiny bit and they see... (full context)
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The voice outside asks what weapons Lev and Kolya have and instructs them to step outside. Nina, who crept into the hallway... (full context)
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As Lev steps outside, he thinks about how heroes and fast sleepers can switch off their thoughts,... (full context)
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Korsakov asks why Lev and Kolya are here, and Lara explains that they were going to kill the Germans.... (full context)
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Korsakov tells Lev to not look shocked, as the woman, Vika, is their best shot. Kolya begins a... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...lounges on a sofa, looking at one of the taxidermy animals on the wall, and Lev sits across the room, pretending not to watch her. He enjoys a graphic daydream of... (full context)
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...harasses her about her Nazi "boyfriend." Vika tells the man to leave Galina alone, and Lev wishes he'd said that first to impress Vika. After a halfhearted jab at Vika, the... (full context)
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Lev approaches Vika and sits down next to her on the couch. He asks her if... (full context)
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Still trying to keep conversation going, Lev compliments Vika on her sniping of the Einsatzkommandos outside. Vika says the men outside aren't... (full context)
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Korsakov and Kolya enter the great room, friends now. Kolya sits down next to Lev and says that they're moving out, despite the fact that they haven't slept since Sonya's... (full context)
Chapter 17
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On Korsakov's orders, Lev, Kolya and the partisans walk single file in the snow, nine paces between each person.... (full context)
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Lev explains to the reader that Lara, Nina, Galina, and Olesya left the farmhouse when the... (full context)
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Lev realizes he's been falling asleep when Kolya suddenly appears beside him. Kolya says he'll walk... (full context)
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Lev confirms that they're marching to the house on the lake to steal eggs from the... (full context)
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Kolya brings up a scene from The Courtyard Hound, making the joke again that Lev hasn't read it, which Lev finds comforting. Kolya recites a passage and Lev compliments it,... (full context)
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Lev asks what Kolya was doing that night if he wasn't defending his thesis on The... (full context)
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Lev thinks about the revelation that Kolya is writing The Courtyard Hound, and finds he's not... (full context)
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Lev feels more awake after his conversation with Kolya. He wonders how the light of the... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Dawn draws closer, and Lev, Kolya, and the partisans head for a safe house near the lake. As they walk... (full context)
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...safe house, one of the partisans starts a fire and they all crowd around it. Lev again fantasizes about Vika and wonders if he's the only one who is attracted to... (full context)
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Kolya asks Lev if he wants to know the truth about why Kolya left his battalion. Lev says... (full context)
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Lev and Kolya are silent for a moment and Lev asks Kolya why it's dark at... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...noon, the partisan standing guard wakes the group and says that the Nazis are coming. Lev, Kolya, and the partisans run from the cabin as they hear German voices shouting. Lev... (full context)
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Lev says that when he was nine, Communists from France visited Piter, and the streets were... (full context)
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As Lev runs, he sees a partisan shot down. He thinks that right now, had a German... (full context)
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Kolya tries to pull Lev up to keep going, but Germans are already coming over the hilltop. With the Germans... (full context)
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...explodes, attracting attention to the far side of the group. In the confusion, Markov, Vika, Lev, and Kolya walk out and join the prisoners, who seem unsurprised and defeated. (full context)
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...walking in front, serving as minesweepers. Nobody walks next to the man who accused Markov. Lev, Kolya, and Vika walk together, talking quietly. Kolya glares at the prisoner and discusses killing... (full context)
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...boots gives up on walking. He raises a hand in a mock Nazi salute, and Lev looks away. (full context)
Chapter 20
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...Kolya rolls his eyes and suggests reciting 60 stanzas of a famous poem. Vika grabs Lev's arm and tells him he doesn't read. The Germans test the man on Kolya's other... (full context)
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...on staying to see if his friends can do better. The Nazi, moving on to Lev, says that he looks Jewish. Kolya tells the Nazi that they tease Lev about it... (full context)
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Lev asks Vika if the commander leading the test was Abendroth, and Vika answers that Abendroth... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...35 of the illiterate prisoners are squeezed into a toolshed with the door nailed shut. Lev is in a corner between Kolya and Vika, and the prisoners discuss escaping. (full context)
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...didn't shoot the Einsatzkommando who tested them, and Vika admits to being afraid. She tells Lev that anyone the Nazis hate is a friend of hers, and she and Kolya discuss... (full context)
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Lev tries to distract himself from his hunger and thinks about chess and then Vika, who... (full context)
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Lev asks Vika his earlier question of why the sky isn't bright at night, and she... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Vika, Kolya, Lev, and the other prisoners are awakened in the morning as the Germans pry the nails... (full context)
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...the shed, irritated, and mutters something to himself. Kolya answers in German. Outside, Kolya tells Lev that he told the German that the peasants hate Jews more than the Germans do.... (full context)
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...company begin to march south on the road. As they pass a sign for Mga, Lev and Kolya realize it's Wednesday and that they're supposed to be back in Piter with... (full context)
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Kolya tells a joke that Lev deems old and not funny. Lev asks if Kolya thinks Vika killed the prisoner in... (full context)
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Kolya wonders out loud if Vika has breasts, annoying Lev. Kolya apologizes for offending Lev and asks if he really likes Vika. Kolya wonders out... (full context)
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As Kolya ponders Lev's assets that might impress Vika, the prisoners are waved off the road to let a... (full context)
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Vika, having silently crept up behind Lev and Kolya, makes a jab about Lev and Kolya being attracted to each other, and... (full context)
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...sharing their cigarettes with him. Vika remarks that Kolya has charm, and that Kolya and Lev are a strange couple. Lev denies that he and Kolya are a couple, and Vika... (full context)
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Vika asks Lev about his father, and asks if Lev wants to be a poet. Meanwhile Kolya appears... (full context)
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Kolya explains that if Lev loses the chess game, Abendroth can shoot them all, and if Lev wins, Abendroth sets... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...lock their prisoners in a sheep barn for the night and while the others sleep, Lev, Kolya, and Vika sit up and discuss their plans for if Abendroth sends for them.... (full context)
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Lev asks what should happen with his own knife. Vika unstraps it from Lev's ankle, tells... (full context)
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Several hours later, two soldiers escort Lev, Kolya, and Vika to the Party building the Nazis are using. Abendroth sits at an... (full context)
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Abendroth, in perfect Russian, tells Lev, Vika, and Kolya that he's drinking plum schnapps, and asks who speaks German. Kolya answers,... (full context)
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Abendroth addresses his soldiers in German and asks Kolya to translate what he said for Lev and Vika: Abendroth knows a Jew when he sees one. Abendroth adds that he can... (full context)
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Abendroth considers the situation and asks if Lev, Kolya, and Vika have information to trade, but Kolya says he simply saw an opportunity.... (full context)
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Lev asks for Abendroth's word that he'll let Vika go, and Abendroth agrees, after wondering if... (full context)
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Abendroth pulls out a coin to toss and begin the chess game with Lev, telling him he can keep his queen. The opening moves are classic and no indicator... (full context)
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Two soldiers now stand behind Kolya and Vika, and Abendroth and Lev begin exchanging pieces. Abendroth remarks that Jews make great violinists and chess players. Lev ignores... (full context)
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After another sequence of moves, Abendroth has unknowingly committed a fatal error. Lev looks at Vika, proud of his victory, but Vika is reaching for her knife and... (full context)
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Abendroth then realizes what Lev is trying to do and tackles him to the floor. Abendroth reaches for his pistol... (full context)
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Kolya struggles with one of the troopers, and Lev runs to help and stabs his knife into the man's back. Vika finally pulls Lev... (full context)
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...dead soldiers, as well as the crate of eggs. He opens a window and he, Lev, and Vika jump out into the snow and run from the Party building. When they... (full context)
Chapter 24
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After an hour nobody has given chase to Vika, Kolya, and Lev, and Lev's finger is throbbing. Lev thinks that now he's a killer, and his knife... (full context)
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As they walk, Lev tells Vika why he and Kolya are actually outside Piter. Soon after, Lev asks Vika... (full context)
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When Lev, Kolya, and Vika reach the top of a long hill, Vika points at a beam... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Lev is again exhausted and his finger is extremely painful. Kolya appears to be treating their... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Lev and Kolya continue their march. Kolya declares that the colonel will invite them to his... (full context)
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Kolya and Lev then hear a gunshot. They leap to the ground and Kolya yells that they're Russian.... (full context)
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Lev asks what he should do, and Kolya says to apply pressure, taking off his hat... (full context)
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Kolya assures Lev that it's not that much blood, and the driver and another soldier carry Kolya to... (full context)
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The driver tells Lev that it's 8-10 minutes to the hospital. Lev and Kolya discuss how much blood a... (full context)
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Kolya smiles at Lev, and they both know that Kolya is going to die. Lev narrates that Kolya's smile... (full context)
Chapter 26
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At Colonel Grechko's mansion, a sergeant leads Lev through the house until they find Grechko in the wine cellar. The bottles are gone,... (full context)
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Grechko says that they can now make fish pies, and instructs the soldier to give Lev two Grade One ration cards, each of which entitle Lev to an officer's rations. Lev... (full context)
Chapter 27
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The narrative then jumps ahead to January 27, 1944, the day the siege ends. Lev is on the rooftop of Sonya's building with her and some of her friends. He'd... (full context)
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That night, Lev kisses Sonya on the mouth. Lev knows that they both are thinking of Kolya, and... (full context)
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Lev tells the reader that a few days after he'd returned to Piter with the eggs,... (full context)
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By the summer of 1945, Lev is living with two other journalists near the Moscow station. Evacuees had returned to the... (full context)
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One night in August, Lev is home alone reading a story by Jack London. He finishes and starts again, not... (full context)
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...in the hallway is Vika, with her suitcase and a cardboard carton. She smiles at Lev and tells him he's still too skinny, and Lev replies that Vika has hair, and... (full context)