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“You kept your mind on the tasks of the day, the hunt for food and water and something to burn, and you saved the rest for the end of the war.” Winter in Russia is a frigid, and a grueling place to attempt to survive. For Koyla and Lev who were almost always on the move, it was even more difficult, and they constantly needed to search life’s basic necessities, food, water, and shelter. Constantly they barely did enough to survive, with many close calls, hence why survival, along with pain and suffering, both physically and mentally, are two main themes in the City of Thieves.
Survival is one of the main themes in City of Thieves. After being given the mission by the colonial, Koyla’s and Lev’s ration cards were taken from them, so they would not longer be able to get food from the Russian government. Therefore they had to find food on their own. Although they managed to eat pretty well, while staying with Sonya, several days they didn’t eat.
The boys also had to survive against the Germans. At the cabin with the girls, the Germans had Koyla and Lev outmanned, and outgunned, had it not been for the partisans they would have most likely been killed. Then at the shack where the partisans, along with the boys stayed for a night before the Germans came, only Koyla, Lev, Vika and Markov survived the attack. They snuck in with some prisoners, and with the exception of Markov, survived that journey as well.
Although Survival is a main theme, so is pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering are other main themes in the City of Thieves. Koyla and Lev suffer both physically and mentally. The hunger pains they have are unimaginable, going days on end without food. Lev is devastated to learn that the Kirov had been destroyed, all of his friends and people he had grown up with, presumably dead caused Lev and an
of pain. The girls at the cabin endured much pain as well, every night doing the bidding of several German officers, and Zoya, who tried to run away from the cabin had both of her feet cut off with a saw. Finally, Koyla was shot by Russian soldiers in the butt. Obviously, the gunshot wound was painful regardless of how strong and tough he acted.
Every human’s goal is to survive. Some people prosper, never worry about their next meal, while others go days without food, but they survive, that’s exactly what many people in the City of Thieves did. They barely got by, but they did. Koyla and Lev often went days without food, but they carried on anyway. This lack of food, along with the frigidness of winter, and the catastrophes they witnessed caused much physical, and emotional pain and suffering. Which is why two of the main themes in City of Thieves are survival, and pain and suffering.
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