Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 3

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 3 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.

And so, finally, they join. Yevgenia Nikoleavena and Novikov, standing in the cool darkness of the apartment entranceway. Novikov is happy, ready to die in that moment. And as Yevgenia leads him upstairs, he notices the wideness of the corridor. “Big enough for a tank,” he thinks. (p. 322)

In her room, it becomes apparent — at least to us as readers — that something has changed between the two. Novikov is unable to realize, or perhaps unable to admit to himself, that they no longer see eye-to-eye. 

On one level, yes, we can see this in how constantly her mind turns to her ex-husband Krymov. It would be hard for her to state it more strongly than she does: “If anything happens to Krymov … If he ends up crippled or in prison, then I’ll go back to him. That’s something you should know.” (p. 324)

Curiously, Novikov immediately questions her about why Krymov might be sent to prison. The answer: perhaps because he was a member of the Comintern, perhaps because he was familiar with Trotsky. Either would be good enough. It is not an unreasonable question to ask, but it is curious for him to be interested in that first.