Monday, 27 April 2015
In 1942, Katya, a Russian sharpshooter, creeps through the falling snow from the Lazur Chemical Plant between the ice floes of the Volga and the black slopes of Mamaev Hill towards "...Krutoy Gully" (p. 349). This tells us that she is participating in a major historical event, the Battle of Stalingrad - although I did not notice this on previous readings. This time, I started googling place names. Boat has given us three historical figures and now this major event.
Katya enters an abandoned apartment where there is a "...Stakhanovite poster..." (p. 350). (I knew what this meant but I don't expect everyone to.) She and the wounded Private Kulikov whom she helps refer to the Battle of Kulikovo. Katya, who we though not Kulikov realize is an immortal, has become a Kazak/Cossack and was taught by Lieutenant Zaitsev. She is on a special mission based on intelligence received from Pavlov's House.
She has seen "'Free farmers...herded onto kolkhozes like slaves.'" (p. 357) and corpses left by the Green Hats (p. 358). (I am having trouble googling "Green Hats.")
"We have our orders directly from Stalin. Here, at this place he renamed in his own honor, here we stand. We die if need be..." (p. 360)
That tells the alert reader where Katya and Kulikov are.
"Once this Stalingrad was Tsarisyn." (p. 362)
Even more explicit but right at the end of the chapter. Katya returns with the intelligence that:
"'Germans [are] bound for Kratoy Gully.'" (p. 359)
This was an event in the Battle. See here. This is the first time that I have realized how much information there is in this chapter.