Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 46

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 46 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.

Sofya Levinton walks toward her death with “heavy, even steps.” (p. 541)

In the last chapter, the narrator tells us that a band’s playing accompanies this march. The music unlocks something personal in everyone listening. For Levinton, it brings nostalgia for a time in her life when she was working toward something, toward her future. 

But, then again, the narrator reminds us: “But this time, the music was deceptive. Sofya Levinton had no future, only a past.” (p.541)

Much of the narration of this chapter — as with so much of Grossman’s writing around the Holocaust — serves to remind us of the people who are about to die. We learn small tidbits about them: this girl has just turned 14, this woman often traded her bread ration for warm water; this man holds his wife’s hand, this woman clutches her baby. 

And the narrator reminds us that each life is a miracle — “the miracle of a particular individual whose conscious and unconscious contain everything good and bad, everything funny, sweet, shameful, pitiful, timid, tender, uncertain, that has happened from childhood to old age – fused into the mysterious sense of an individual life.” (p. 542)