The Loss of Innocence Portrayed in Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

The loss of innocence can be described as going through an event that alters behavior and causes one’s character to become more mature. As the result of events in the novel Between shades ofgray by Ruta Sepetys, it is evident that events that take place leave one more mature than prior to that event. Many characters in this novel share the common trait of the loss of innocence, however Lina, Andrius, and Jonas best prove this trait, The loss of purity in Lina experiencing violence and sexual assault, Andrius’ impassioned struggles, and through Jonas‘ role of responsibility it is shown that the characters have matured quicker than necessary.

On the way and during her time in the camps. Lina experiences extreme violence directed towards herself and to the others around her, Multiple lives are taken directly before Lina‘s eyes, This causes her to mature quicker psychologically then she would if she were not in the camp When Lina comes back from stepping off the train she is asked what she saw outside, She then explains: “I saw the NKVD throwing dead bodies off the train and into the mud” (Sepetys, 66).

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Although Lina is not a small child. she is still youthful and young people should not be exposed to violent and inhumane treatment towards others. Along with Violence, sadly sexual assault is often associated. When waiting in line for the showers Lina gets touched by an NKVD officer. She then states: “ His touch, the rough hand on me, made me feel sick, and dinier on the inside then I was on the outside” (Sepetys, 98).

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This NKVD officer has no right to touch Lina in that way, He made her feel extremely uncomfortable and the memory stayed with her for a long time contributing to her loss of innocence. While Lina is the main protagonist, she is not the only one who suffered. Andrius was also affected during the years of living in the labour camp. Over time he experiences many emotional struggles that contribute to his loss of innocence as a result of many emotional weights on him that are out of his control. While having an argumentative conversation with Lina he expresses: “How would you feel Lina, if your mother felt she had to prostitute herself to save your life?” (Sepetys. 159).

Andrius‘ mother is acting to protect Andrius and he does not have the power to do anything to prevent it. Her choice weighs on him due to the fact that he is the reason she is prostituting herself. Another torment Andrius faces is when Lina is sent to Trofimovsk. Before she leaves Andrius tells her: “‘look at me whispered Andrius, moving close, ‘1’” see you’ he said ‘just think about that‘” (Sepetys. 284). At this moment Lina is his true love and he is left feeling awfully heartbroken by their depart. He matures and focuses on the ‘bright side’ of the situation thus proving his loss of innocence. Jonas has had to mature the most during his time in the camps. Since Kostas is separated from Jonas, Lina. and Elena, Jonas is the only male in the family and wishes the attempt to acquire the role of the male, When Jonas, Lina, and Andrius sneak out of the train car to try and locate their father’s whereabouts, they find Kostas and he says to Jonas: “I know you‘ll take good care of your sister and mother while I‘m away” (Sepetys. 44). The general male role is composed of providing for the family and the ability to protect loved ones, leaving Jonas feeling pressure towards not falling short of his promise to his father. Performing labour for the NKVD is the only way to survive in the camps in view of their bread ration relying on their work. Regardless of age, Jonas is forced to work in harsh conditions at the young age of 10 years old. “Jonas had been reassigned to chopping logs for firewood. The snow had arrived and he came back each night wet and freezing” (Sepetys, 184). Children are supposed to be going to school to receive an education and playing outside with friends, not working and struggling to survive. Jonas is still a young child and is missing out on all the activities children take pan in His innocent and pure childhood is stolen from him.

Due to circumstances that take place, the characters who best exemplify the traits from the loss of innocence in the novel are Lina, Andrius, and Jonas Throughout the events in which Lina encountered violence, Andrius struggled emotionally. and Jonas acts like a man ratheI than a young boy, it is clearly presented how they have had to mature over time. In conclusion, losing one‘s innocence is inevitable. The novel Between Shades ofGray exhibits that certain events cause some to mature before their years due to coping with the outcome.

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The Loss of Innocence Portrayed in Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. (2022, Jul 08). Retrieved from

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