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The Flight into the Northern Mountains

  1. The Flight into the Northern Mountains

Grusha carries Michael in a sack and leaves the city for the north with the Fat prince’s ironshirts in hot pursuit. She sings ‘the song of the four generals’ on her journey. When Michael is hungry, she tries to suckle him but she has not milk so she is forced to spend two piasters for a pitcher of milk, which amounts to her week’s pay.

Grusha continues until she reaches River Sirra, where she notices the homestead of a peasant couple who have milk. She decides to leave Michael at their doorstep and hides behind a tree to see what would happen. The peasant woman takes the child and wants to keep it but her husband refuses suggesting they give it to the local priest.

Convinced that Michael is in good hands, Grusha decides to go back but shortly comes across the Fat Prince’s ironshirts. The Corporal, who is in charge questions Grusha about the child but she lies that she has not seen it and is going to meet Simon. Grusha fears that the ironshirts will find Michael where she had left him and she quickly runs back to the farmhouse to warn the couple to hide the child.

The peasant woman agrees to hide Michael but when the corporal questions her, she becomes frightened and reveals everything. The corporal discovers where Michael is hidden but before he can get to him, Grusha grabs a piece of firewood and hits the corporal on the head until he collapses. She then grabs Michael and runs away.

Grusha continues on her journey to the north with the ironshirts, who are on horse-back, close behind him. She reaches at the foot of Janga – Tau Glacier, where she decides to adopt. She removes his silken shirt and wraps him in rags.

Eventually, she arrives at the bridge on the glacier where she sings ‘the song of the rotten bridge’. One rope of the bridge is broken while the other is rotting making it lean dangerously on one side. She finds a group of merchants who are unable to cross. They warn her not to cross and one merchant woman even tells her to leave the baby behind. In the end, she manages to cross the bridge just as the ironshirts arrive. On the opposite side of the bridge, she triumphantly sings ‘the song to the child’ as she laughs her way to freedom.

Discussion points

  • Grusha makes many sacrifices in this act, can you identify them?
  • Was it right for Grusha to use violence on the Corporal?

3. The northern mountains

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