Lina Vilkas: she is a 15-16 Lithuanian. She is strong-willed, kind, and ignorant of her actions. She's always willing to protect her family and still have hope for everything that goes wrong. She's willing to take risks not knowing the consequemce.
Andrius's Stone: "I closed my eyes. I felt Andrius moving close. 'I will see you,' he said. 'Yes, I will see you," I whispered. 'I will.' I reached into my pocket and squeezed the stone" (336).
NKVD/Stalin: The secret Soviet police take Lina's family and deport them to a camp in Altai, Russia. The officers are ruthless and don't care about anyone's well-being. Nikolai Kretzsky is hated by Lina because she always gets abused by him and other officers but learns he's nicer than he portrays. Stalin is never directly in the story but is always mentioned because this is under his country.
"They were singing, singing at the top of their lungs. Andrius joined, and then my brother...singing our national anthem"(61).
The NKVD wear down people physically and mentally. So willing to work in labor camps and still be surviving day after day takes a lot of strength. These officers strip these people of basic human rights so fellow Lithuanians will bond with memories of family and fun times to not lose grip of life.
Melancholy: "Jonas began to cry, cradling her in his 11-year-old arms. Small whimpers became, deep, racking sobs, shaking his entire body" (316).
This is a symbol because he gave her the stone to remind her that he is always there and they will end up together in the end. Andrius snuck it into her pocket before she had to leave and kept it with her for over a decade
This shows irony because in a situation like this people would give up and have no hope. So when the train car of men came along singing was showing that they can still make something good out of this terrible situation.
Although this is a sad scene and not the main idea of the book it sets the mood even deeper than it was before. Families being separated and killed and forced to work till death can be a bit depressing.