Between Shades of Gray Part Two: Chapters 29-34 Summary & Analysis

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Between Shades of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray Part Two: Chapters 29-34 Summary & Analysis

Part Two: maps and snakes 

Chapter 29 Summary

As Chapter 29 opens, the Vilkas family is surveying the ten by twelve foot shack that is to be their home when the young blond guard comes to summon Elena to meet with the commander.  They want to stay together, so the children go with their mother but must wait outside while she speaks with the commander.  When she tells them that she’ll “be right back,” the words cause Lina to flashback to a time when she and her mother were shopping for a new dress for Lina.  Her mother stepped out while Lina was changing back to her own clothes, and surprised her with ice cream before they continued shopping for Lina’s art supplies.

Given how unlikely it is that she will return with ice cream cones this time, the children are worried about leaving their mother alone, so Lina sneaks around the building to look in the window.  She sees the commander speaking to her mother while flipping through a file.  Jonas begs her to not make trouble, so she moves back before their mother comes out of the building, and Jonas leads them back to the shack.

Chapter 30 Summary

Back at the shack, Elena tells them that the commander asked her to spy on the other prisoners in exchange for special treatment, and that she has refused, knowing that the NKVD guards cannot be trusted.  They begin to unpack their things, and Lina takes out the framed family picture and the tablet of writing paper upon which she had started a letter to her cousin Joana the night they were arrested.  She wonders where Joana is now and what she would write to her about, after all they’ve endured.

Chapter 31 Summary

That night, Elena pays the Altaian woman for a single potato, and then again for the privilege of boiling it.  Then they try to sleep on the bare floor, huddled together, and Lina remembers when she opened her letter of acceptance to the summer artist’s program and they celebrated with cake.  She watches the Altaian woman pee in a tin can in…

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