Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 49

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 49 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.

We often like to avoid thinking about death.

In Life and Fate, Grossman positions death front and center, making it impossible to avoid the topic. In fact, today’s chapter deals pithily—in less than a page—with the concepts of life, freedom, and death. 

What Grossman bemoans in this chapter is not simply death itself, but the gradual process of denying someone freedom—a process he sees as akin to death. As the narrator puts it, “Life is freedom, and dying is a gradual denial of freedom,” (p. 555). What we have witnessed in the last few chapters should give us much pause. We have not witnessed an abstract death, but a systematic and mechanized deprivation of freedom.