Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 19

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 19 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.

Krymov makes the perilous journey to house 6/1, feeling revitalized. No, he is not a stepson of the age, but is instead a “Bolshevik, a fighting commissar.” (p. 420) There, however, something slightly different now. 

Krymov has been on the front lines since the early days of the war. He has dispatched the USSR’s enemies, external and internal. He has signed death warrants. Yet when he sees a dead soldier on the ground the sight upsets him. Despite the exultations to those lost, “His death had not made him strong – he was the weakest thing in the world, a dead sparrow that not even the moths and midges were afraid of.” (pgs. 420-421)

It may seem like only a brief moment, but one could tie it to a larger thorough line. A characteristic feature of our novel’s original Bolsheviks — Krymov, Mostovksoy, Abarchuk — is their hard-edged attitude toward death. They have been granted (and made no small use of) the right to judge. This is a feature which repulsed both Zhenya and Lyudmila from their respective (former) husbands.