Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 6

This post, covering Part 1, Chapter 6, is part of The Slavic Literature Pod’s chapter a day read along of Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate. Learn more about our project here.

Contrasting the dour outlook on the Red Army in Chapter 5, Mostovskoy in this chapter takes on the low mood of several soldiers by giving a Party-line speech. He draws them together with allusions to Gorky and with an appeal to the rightness of their fight against the fascists.

Then he says something quite interesting: “We should rejoice that the Fascists hate us. We hate them and they hate us. Right? But just imagine being sent to a Russian camp! That would really be hard. But as for this…! We’re stout-hearted lads!” (p. 35)

Of course, we cannot say with any certainty that this line was intended to be ironic. But it’s difficult, at least as a reader looking back, not to see a comparison being drawn with the gulags. This is also a theme Grossman will return to, so for now it’s worthwhile just to start noting possible points of comparison or allusions to the gulag.