Between Shades of Gray Part Three: Chapters 69-74 Summary & Analysis

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Between Shades of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray Part Three: Chapters 69-74 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 69 Summary

They huddle together as the barges leave.  Jonas wonders how they will mail letters to Kostas, and Elena says that there must be a village somewhere close by.  The bald man announces that this is how it will end—with Stalin letting them “freeze to death” (268) and the foxes eating their bodies.  Elena says that they must be taking them somewhere else, but the man who winds his watch disagrees and reminds them that the “polar night” is coming, when the sun stays below the horizon for 180 days.  Suddenly, Janina’s mother, who has barely spoken for the entire trip, screams that she cannot stand to be eaten by a fox and starts to strangle her daughter.  Elena pulls her off Janina, who begins to cry.  Then the woman apologizes to her daughter and attempts to strangle herself.  Elena slaps her and the man who winds his watch restrains her.  Janina cries out to her mother, sobbing, and Elena holds the woman and strokes her hair, promising that it will all “be fine” (270).

Chapter 70 Summary

That night, Jonas and Elena sleep under a fishing boat, while Lina sleeps on her suitcase.  She stays up late to draw Janina’s mother strangling her and to write a letter to Andrius.  Early the next morning, the NKVD wake them up and divide them into twenty-five groups of fifteen people each.  The Vilkas are in group eleven.  The men are put to work finishing the NKVD barracks, the boys are sent to fish in the sea, and the women, children, and elderly remain to build huts—or jurtas—for the prisoners made out of whatever they can scavenge from the landscape—sticks and stones, moss and driftwood.  Jonas returns, empty-handed, to tell them that all the fish he catches is for the NKVD.  They are to eat bread rations.

They spend weeks on their hut, racing to finish it before the first snow arrives.  Ivanov, the particularly cruel guard with rotten teeth, visits with Kretzsky, and laughs when Elena asks for a stove for their hut.  When she looks to Kretzsky for help, he looks…

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