Between Shades of Gray Important Quotes

Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray Important Quotes

1. “I shut the bathroom door and caught sight of my face in the mirror. I had no idea how quickly it was to change, to fade. If I had, I would have stared at my reflection, memorizing it. It was the last time I would look into a real mirror for more than a decade.” (Chapter 3, p. 31)

This is Lina’s last act before leaving her home in Kaunaus for what would become a 12-year ordeal as a deportee and prisoner in Soviet labor camps. It is significant in that it establishes one of the major themes of the book—identity—and how who we are is defined by our actions and experiences. Her face will change not only because she will grow older, much more quickly than she should because of the brutality of the life she will endure, but also because this brutal life will in some sense erase the girl she was. What children like Lina endured in the labor camps forces their essential innocence to fade—an innocence that is more than just the innocence of childhood, but something shared by all people who are not in their lifetimes forced to confront the stark reality of genocide and inhumanity in the face of human suffering.

2. “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.” (Chapter 7, p. 44)

This is one of the central questions of a book that examines the inhumanity of the Soviet regime. It also highlights the slow chipping away of life down to its barest form that the Vilkas experience at the hands of the NKVD, exchanging precious heirlooms for the hope of remaining together for a little while longer.

3. “I counted the people—forty-six packed in a cage on wheels, maybe a rolling coffin. I used my fingers to sketch the image in a layer of dirt on the floor near the front of the train car, wiping the drawings away and starting over, again and again.” (Chapter 10, p. 54)

At this point, early in the story, Lina has no idea where they are…

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