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Phone Calls

Throughout Journey into the Whirlwind, phones and phone calls are emblematic of authority, the intrusion of the public into the private sphere, and the connectedness of the domestic and the official. Journey begins with a phone call that informs Ginzburg of Kirov’s death. Shortly thereafter, Ginzburg and her family wait anxiously for the phone call that will signal her imminent arrest. The shrill sound of the phone is also a perfect representation of the nervousness generated by the calls, combined with a sense of strident, piercing authority.


Two notable watches appear in Journey into the Whirlwind, and both suggest in some way that familiar time has come to an end.The first watch is a gift from Aksyonov to Ginzburg, and it falls into a snowbank as the husband and wife are taking a walk near their home. This occurs shortly before Ginzburg’s arrest and foreshadows the cessation of her life as she knows it. The loss of the watch augurs the period of Ginzburg’s life in which time passes not in minutes or hours but in the interminability of the prison cell. The second watch is confiscated from Ginzburg upon her arrival at the cellars at Black Lake, just after her arrest. When she receives the watch back later, before being transferred to the Krasin Street prison, she notices that it stopped the day of her arrest. The symbolic implication is, of course, that time stopped that day.