Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 62

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 62 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 have spoken a great deal about the weight of the war on the soldiers fighting it. In Chapter 62, Grossman reminds the readers about the plight of the near-evacuees, the ones sheltering in comparative safety on the left bank. 

They are safe — for now. But they are not comfortable, living like sardines in hastily-arranged accommodations. There is little food. Their suffering infects the very world itself: “When night came, it was as though darkness had sprung up from the unbearable sadness, from the terrible cold and hunger, from the filth, from the endless torments of the war.” (p. 604)

Vera’s child has brought some smiles to the barge’s residents. A smile, though, is neither a blanket nor food to eat. The desperation is palpable among everybody — Vera, and possibly even her newborn, included. 

Then, someone starts reading a news bulletin. They learn of the Soviet counter-attack into Stalingrad and the mood shifts. People begin crying again, no longer out of fear but out of something far more terrible: uncertain, desperate hope.