Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 5

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 5
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 5 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.

Alone again, Yevgenia finds herself returning to the depths of uncertainty. Perhaps she does, in fact, want or need Novikov. After all, Krymov isn’t exactly a tender soul — his concern for human life doesn’t extend far beyond the reaches of the Party. Then again, perhaps that too is an unfair assessment. 

She longs to speak with Sofya Levinton (who, unbeknownst to Yevgenia, is being taken to a death camp) and is suddenly reminded of her sister Marusya (killed in the evacuation of Stalingrad). She is not only literally alone — her losses are felt acutely. These are people with whom she will never again sit across a table from, sharing black tea and emotional worlds. 

The idea of loss has naturally pervaded Life and Fate. Here though we see it in its everyday moments — a problem she might have worked through with Sofya is instead dealt with alone. Going for a solitary walk, Yevgenia thinks of a story her former roommate had shared with her, the tale of the only time she had ever loved.