Stalinist tactics of control created fear and paranoia among its citizens. Choose at least three instances in the book of behavior directed by fear or paranoia. Analyze why the characters chose to act the way they did and what consequences came of their actions. What are the dangers of this system? What was the purpose?
The book is about how communist dictators use fear to control the way the people in their society act. Fear makes them scared to disobey and say or do anything that goes against the communist way. Fear makes people walk a fine line of trying to be perfect. These people try to be an example of their communist leader STALIN. The fear makes them not want to do anything crazy or do anything that is not of Stalin because they are scared of the consequences. Majority of the book is propaganda and how these people think that the conditions and rules they live in is the best way to be.
One instance where behavior directed by fear is when Sasha’s dad got taken away and Sasha has nowhere to sleep because his neighbor took over his room. Sasha goes to his aunt because that is what his dad told him to do. Once he arrives at his aunts door, his aunt does not even let him in because Sasha’s dad is now an enemy of the state which means Sasha could be an enemy of the state. The aunt is fearful that if Sasha stays with them she and her family could get taken away to. “ Im sorry, Sasha, she says.” If we take you in, they’ll arrest us, too. We just had a baby. WE have to stay alive. (PAGE 41) You could literally get taken away for anything even if you are innocent. This communist society puts fear in their own people that makes them have to walk on a fine line ,no mistakes, no mess ups, no slip ups , none of that.
Another act of paranoia is when Sasha was talking to “Stalin’s broken nose.” The nose makes a lot of jokes that you can compare to the Communist society they were living in. “Nikolai Ivanych, my pipe disappeared after the visit of the workers,’Yes Comrade Stalin, I’ll immediately take the proper measures.’ Ten minutes later, I pulled out a drawer in my pipe. I dialed the State Security again. ‘ Nikolai Ivanych, my pipes been found.’ What a shame,’ he said. ‘ All of the workers have already confessed.”(PAGE 118) So the irony here is how even if you are innocent they will and can make you guilty out of fear. If you are taken because of something or any reason it is nearly impossible to prove to them that you are innocent.
Another act of fear is in Nina Petrovnas classroom. She puts fear in the students basically saying that going against the majority is wrong. You are not allowed to have your own opinion honestly. “Now take out your pencils,” she says. “On a new sheet of paper, write down the names of the pupils in our classroom whom you suspect might be responsible. When finished sign and date your list in the upper right corner and pass it to the front.”(Page 81).These kids were not even there to witness who broke the nose. She forces them to basically make accusations against anybody in the classroom even if you do not know who did it, just put the blame on somebody who you think did it. “ Children why are we not writing ?” “We are not sure, Nina Petrovna. Its Zina Krivko; she always speaks for everybody. “ How can you not be sure,Zina? Did you do it ?”
The dangers of this system are that these people have little to no freedom. The rules are very strict. Everybody lives the same way and share everything basically. They will probably never know what it is like to have something of their own. They are brainwashed by propaganda into thinking these things are ok. They think this is the best and the only way to live. They look at things like capitalism and think that’s the worst thing ever because propaganda. This point is emphasized yet again in Nina Petrovna’s classroom in Chapter 13; “In our country, even the children of enemies are allowed a choice-cooperate or face the consequences.”….In capitalist countries, the teacher would decide whether to admit Finkelstein back into the classroom or send him to the principal to receive his punishment. But remember, the Soviet classroom is the most democratic in the world. You will decide his fate. You will vote.”(pg 58)