City of Thieves

Boots Symbol Analysis

Boots Symbol Icon

One of the best ways for anyone to survive the brutal winter in and around Leningrad during the siege is to be in possession of a pair of warm boots. The state of one's boots then becomes a way to identify the haves from the have-nots, and to make an educated guess as to who will live and who will die. Soldiers, both Nazis and Russian Red Army, are issued very warm and strong boots to withstand the hours they spend in the snow, while Lev notes that some of the Nazis' prisoners are barefoot, their boots stolen. If these prisoners can't survive the inevitable frostbite from walking barefoot in the snow, they'll certainly die of the cold and exposure. It becomes obvious then that boots aren't just about survival, they're also indicative of power. The Nazi soldiers had enough power to confiscate boots from their captives, while those still living in Leningrad have the power to steal boots from the dead. The blood on the boots for sale in the black-market Haymarket further serves as a chilling reminder of this power and of those who didn't make it.

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Boots Symbol Timeline in City of Thieves

The timeline below shows where the symbol Boots appears in City of Thieves. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...Haymarket continued to thrive. Lev and Kolya walk through, taking in the stalls full of boots, pistols, grenades, and jars of dirt that came from under a bombed food warehouse, supposedly... (full context)
Chapter 10
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Sexuality, Masculinity, and Power Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
Kolya tells Lev to get his boots on, because they're going to Mga. There's enough authority in Kolya's voice that Lev has... (full context)
Chapter 11
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
Lev and Kolya see a group of dead bodies lying facedown in the snow, their boots and clothes stripped away, and their suitcases open next to them and emptied. Someone had... (full context)
Chapter 15
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...appear out of their hiding places. Most look like farmers, and some have Red Army boots while other walk in felt shoes. The leader's name is Korsakov, and he approaches Lev... (full context)
Chapter 19
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
All the prisoners are male. Two are Red Army and walk only in socks, their boots likely confiscated by the Germans. The Germans seem relatively calm about the explosion, and Kolya... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
The procession slows as one of the Russian prisoners without boots gives up on walking. He raises a hand in a mock Nazi salute, and Lev... (full context)
Chapter 22
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...the floor, his throat slashed. The prisoners begin to take the dead man's gloves and boots. Kolya grabs the man's hat. (full context)