Breaking Stalin's Nose
How we cite our quotes:
Stalin says that sharing our living space teaches us to think as Communist "WE" instead of capitalist, "I." We agree. In the morning, we often sing patriotic songs together when we line up for the toilet. (2.2)
WE are Borg. WE are One of Forty-Eight. Prepare to be assimilated. Jamming to patriotic songs in the a.m. might seem fun (for roughly two minutes), but communal living in this society is an exercise in extreme groupthink.
"It's more important to join the Pioneers than to have a father," he whispers hurriedly. "You hear me?" (5.18)
If you're thinking the Young Soviet Pioneers sounds like a Boy or Girl Scout type organization, you win the Internets! The Pioneers borrowed heavily (or, less politely, openly pilfered) from the Boy Scouts movement, but with an added bonus of political indoctrination throw in for good measure. From the ages of nine through fourteen, the Pioneers were the main community that Soviet kids associated with.
Then all of us together—the officer, the guards, my dad, Stukachov, and me, closing the rear—march down the corridor to the dimly lit kitchen. I notice we are walking in step. Left, right, left, right, left, right, like on parade. (5.21)
Here, no one is stepping out of line—literally. Community, in lots of ways in this novel, is about conformity and groupthink (groupwalk?). The image of the men and Sasha marching almost unconsciously in lockstep reinforces how they must conform even in their other actions and thoughts, or else they pay a hefty price, which we see in the example of Sasha's dad getting thrown into prison.