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Alternate Public Persona

“Evil will rule until good men or women choose to act.” (Sepetys 338). As Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, comes to an end, we identified an idea of good in evil. The dialogue relationship between Lina Vilkas and two same yet different characters showed a centralized theme.

Knowing that they might make it out alive, Lina and her Lithuanian’s kept each others spirits up. But like every other story, there is one bittersweet character – the bald man. The bald man throughout the rising action and climax was a very mysterious omniscient character, we couldn’t even find out his name. He was very secretive, but when he did reveal something, he never made a big deal out of it. Out of the group, he was maladjusted, unstable, and yet so certain about himself. He knew one thing; he wanted to be dead, constantly complaining about how nice it would be if he could just die. Lina got fed up with him one day, and she told him off, “‘You think of nothing but yourself. If you want to kill yourself, what’s keeping you?’ … ‘Fear’ [the bald man] said”(Sepetys 322). In this scene of the novel, we can clearly start seeing the bald man’s slow change in attitude. He was able to admit reasoning behind his constant voracious attitude. From this we infer that he was just like everyone else, fending for themselves and their families. He changed his attitude towards Lina, and that was something very significant in this book. People can change, in fact most do change, when a certain circumstance or understanding happens.

Another very prominent example of changes in the bald man’s attitude from his old ways comes in a different angle. When he finally started giving to his community and helping out: “‘What about you, old man? I need teams of people to make soup and cut fish.’… He raised his head. ‘Yes, I will help,’ said the bald man.” (Sepetys 332). Sadly, we will never truly know when he changed his attitude, and what made him come to that conclusion; although, we do know he started when was Christmas, everyone talked about Christmas traditions, and memories, yet they didn’t acknowledge the reason behind him not speaking up, might’ve been because he was Jewish. He finally told everyone is a bored tone that he was Jewish, and they instantly felt guilty. He was always a very succinct man, always kept to himself, going straight to the point, not talking anymore then he had to, and did acts of selfishness. After this scene, he started opening up and helped others. Showing people can change, you just have to give them time.

Not only did the bald man change for the better, we start noticing a NVKD who changes. When the word NVKD comes to mind, kind and heartfelt aren’t the exact words I think of. More so a stymie in the path the Lithuanians where travelling down, forcing them to give up their futures and work as slaves. Nikolai, or Kretzsky, touched my heart with one line: “’Stay away. I hate you. Do you hear me? I HATE YOU!’ [Lina said] Kretzsky started at mother. ‘Me, too,’ he said” (Sepetys 298). Whilst this dispute was at its climax, Kretzsky just stood and let her comments make a indelible mark in his memory. Life as a NKVD isn’t as lavish as the Lithuanians thought, Kretzsky showed that he hated what he was doing; even though, he was being forced by the authoritative Soviets who had something over his family. We learnt that Kretzsky was doing it for his family, as Lina was here because her parents were trying to save their cousins. They weren’t so different after all. This marks the theme that can also relate to the bald man; people change, you just have to give them a chance.

In conclusion, Lina’s emotions towards the stubborn man, and the enemy, do change. Because in the end, they changed, not only did they change, but so did Lina’s perspective. You cannot judge someone too quickly, because we’re all in the same situation, and we all change in different time spans. Give someone a chance, and they might just surprise you.