Between Shades of Gray Part One : Chapters 1-15 Summary & Analysis

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Between Shades of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray Part One : Chapters 1-15 Summary & Analysis

Part One: thieves and prostitutes 

Chapter 1 Summary 

It is June 14, 1941, and 15-year-old Lina Vilkas has just changed into her nightgown and is about to write a letter to her cousin Joana when there is a terrifying pounding at the Vilkas’s front door.  She peeks out of her room and sees her mother standing silently in the hallway with her eyes closed, praying.  Lina’s 10-year-old brother Jonas peeks out of his room and asks his mother if she is going to answer the door.  Lina watches her “elegant and beautiful” (25) mother walk down the hallway to open the door.  Then they hear loud voices.  Jonas says it is the “NKVD”—the “Soviet secret police” (24), but Lina can’t believe it.  She sees he is right, though, and overhears an officer tell her mother that they have twenty minutes to pack their things to leave.  Then she watches the officer put out his cigarette on their living room floor with his boot. 

Chapter 2 Summary 

Lina wonders where her father is as she runs back to her room to pack.  Her mother comes in and tells her to pack “all that is useful but not necessarily dear” (26).  She sees the bread and money that has been left on Lina’s windowsill and pulls it onto her desk, closing the curtains, and tells the children to ignore anyone who tries to help them so that no one else will be pulled into their predicament.  Lina starts packing, placing a framed portrait of their family into her suitcase, while her mother runs around, frantically pulling clothes from their places and shoving them into suitcases.  Lina is more concerned about finding her sketchbook, but manages to pack her “writing tablet, the case of pens and pencils and the bundle of rubles, along with two books, hair ribbons and hairbrush” (27).  When Jonas comes in dressed for school, Elena must take him back to his room to help him pack his suitcase.  Lina puts on her summer raincoat and leaves her room, leaving the loaf of bread behind.

The loaf of bread recalls Lina’s visit to…

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