Across the Divide
Feats of Friendship and Romance in the Gulag
In women’s memoirs of the Gulag and Soviet prison system, walls are not represented in the entirely negative way one might expect. Rather, the walls hold a paradoxical position in the texts. For, while they physically separate the women from their loved ones and their old lives, the walls become a platform for building friendships and starting up romantic liaisons by providing a means of communication between prisoners in different cells. The walls also offer the women some real protection from the sexual aggressors shown to dominate mixed spaces—and indeed, the walls of these cells are the known in a system where the unknown poses real danger.
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