Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 194

Between Shades of Gray is a work of historical fiction loosely based on the stories that emerged out of the Baltic genocide in the 20th century. It casts its protagonist's desire for individual freedom and creative expression as in perpetual conflict with great upheavals in her world's political state and other social systems. These forces, embodied primarily in the Soviet NKVD, alienate her family from their geographical and social roots when they throw them in a concentration camp.

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At the camp, Lina witnesses a number of unique characters whose moral flaws ironically compel her to fashion a sense of solidarity as she comes to realize that the state order supervenes on and disrupts the lives of all of the subjects it blindly targets. Individuals try to flourish even in these desperate environments; for example, Andrius' mother secretly gives up her bodily dignity to become a prostitute for the soldiers only to protect her son.

At the end of the novel, Lina's mother dies just before a camp inspector arrives to provide provisions for the starving, sick, and wounded. This ending signals the prevalence of nihilistic outcomes produced by regimes of suffering that accompany fascism.

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