Kourdakov used a lot of contrasting situations to strengthen the impact of the situations.
The Sunday Afternoon picnic is a good example. All of them getting together before hand, an hour or two early, to just laugh, sing, have some good old fun! How they played their music, ate and drank their food and seemed so normal. Human, even.
Then telling about the raid, about the brutal beatings, the smashing of teeth, punching of faces, the screaming of curses. The thought of the sand going down their throats just to shut them up. That’s to show how awful they can be, how inhuman the entire situation was. Just what they did to those girls alone is appalling.
But the set up to it, not just showing how different the situations were, but showing how human they were, making you feel like you could hang out with them, laugh with them. And then showing that even the most normal of seeming people can be monsters. Can hurt their own kind so easily and, in some cases, enjoy it.
How they had to do all of this in private because the public wouldn’t condone this, they didn’t believe the Believers did anything awful enough to be forced to endure that kind of treatment. Because the public would want to protect the Believers, would side with them, and the secret police couldn’t have that.
He got a taste of the medicine he was dishing out when the award ceremony came around. Having someone so high up in the Communist Party, someone he respected and looked up to, drunkenly ramble on about how it was useless? How it wasn’t worth the effort? Seeing just how all of those people at the top had abused the system just to get to where they were. It sickened him, and he did something none of those Believers did.
He lost faith in what he believed in.
That is the biggest contrast in all of the book so far, everything he had known and loved, was told was important and good, turned out to be a lie. Turned out that all of the things he had faith in, the Party, the Youth League, Lenin! It wasn’t what he had been taught, what he had learned and believed in. It was all just a big lie.
But those Believers never lost faith, they’d be beaten up to a bloody pulp, but they prayed while being beaten up. They’d be thrown into walls, but they’d return to another meeting when they felt better, or even as soon as 3 days after being beaten up before.
They would have their bibles, handwritten or printed, taken away forever. Their leaders would be arrested while the others lay in a bloody puddle. But they still came back, no matter how much they were hurt, mentally and physically, they’d come back. Some didn’t, no. Not everyone is strong enough. But the numbers of how many did? They were definitely the majority.
In a way, no matter how much they beat up the Believers, the beaters were bested, not in might, but because their faith was real, not to all, but to them. And it stayed with them, unlike what happened to Kourdakov.