Between Shades of Gray Part One: Chapters 16-28 Summary & Analysis

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Between Shades of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray Part One: Chapters 16-28 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 16 Summary

The train eventually arrives at the Vilnius, Lithuania station, which reminds Lina of when her teacher invited her to apply for a prestigious art program, a summer study program with “some of the most talented artists in northern Europe” (79).  At Vilnius, they split the train, and the men in the cars being separated from them begin singing the Lithuanian national anthem, which makes Lina weep.

Chapter 17 Summary

As she wipes her tears on a handkerchief, she realizes that she can use it to draw messages to her father that will be hidden when the handkerchief is folded.  As she is planning her handkerchief drawing, she overhears the women talking about Ona and her baby, who is still unable to nurse.  The train journey continues for days, stopping once a day to remove dead bodies from the cars and deliver gray slop to the prisoners.  The prisoners take turns to leave the car to get the food, and when it is Lina’s turn, it is raining.  She sees the body of a child being thrown into the mud and watches the child’s mother being beaten for trying to follow her child.  She looks back at her own car and stands still, remembering her father’s face through the toilet hole and thinks about running away.  Andrius takes the pails from her and gets the grey slop for their car, while Lina is shoved back into the car by an NKVD officer.  Later she tells her mother that she wanted to run and asks her why the Soviets have decided they’re “animals” (85).  Her mother reminds her that the Soviets are wrong and that they’ll all be going home soon, as soon as the rest of the world finds out what horrible things are being done to them. 

Chapter 18 Summary

The train continues to move, and the prisoners become infested with lice, which, along with a lack of light and insufficient nourishment, make their circumstances even more miserable.  When they make their daily stop for the gray slop that are subsisting on, they try to keep track of the number of bodies…

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