There is an increasing concentration on Victor, the scientist and his extended family, with it becoming clear that although they believe they are going to be evacuated to Moscow they presumably end up somehow in the battle of Stalingrad. While the focus shifts to Victor and co. the battle is hardly mentioned with life at war more of the theme.
There is a great chapter where life under the Stalinist oppression is laid bare with one local part official scrambling for cover after a fellow apparatik discovers that his four year old has scribbled a pointed beard and glasses onto a picture of Stalin. Even in war the prospect of a bullet from your own side never diminished.
Bullet points between pages 80 – 146
* Victor’s wife gets news that her son, who was conceived with her first husband, has been badly injured and so she finds out which hospital he is laid up in and heads off to visit him
* There is a chapter with a local politician Getmanov who has been assigned to a tank division and he gets ready to head off and join his unit but before he goes he bids farewell to party colleagues who are all watching very carefully what they say
* Then carrying on the theme of the stifling bureaucracy (no wonder the KGB stole Grossman’s manuscript) a friend of Victor’s is hounded by a passport office and has to lean on all her contacts to beg to be allowed to stay and continue her war work
* When she gets to the hospital Victor’s wife discovers that her son is dead and when she visits his grave she loses her grasp on reality and seems to think that he still might come back and once she gets home she rushes to open every letter and the front door