Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 61

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 61
Photo by Annie Smurova / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 61 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.

On a barge-cum-hotel stuck in the ice, on a river next to an unparalleled battle, in the very hours determining the course of the war hereafter, Vera gives birth to her son. 

This scene is of particular significance when read in comparison to Vera announcing her pregnancy at the close of Stalingrad. After telling her father that she plans to keep it, Stephan Spiridonov holds his daughter close and tells her that — somehow — they’ll make it work. 

Then, Vera’s decision reads as one of defiance and an article of faith. Looking at the rubble and ruins of her home, at the uncertainty about the war,I think anyone in her shoes would think twice about bringing a child into that world. So her decision to keep it speaks to a faith in the future. 

In this novel, that idea has been tasted as Vera’s life has been reduced further — she is no longer a nurse because there is no longer a hospital, death constantly hangs over her head, and she has now given birth on an overcrowded boat.