Thomas’ life hasn’t gone the way it should, and he has certain ideas about why that is. Therefore, he decides to stop time, and ask questions to the people he thinks hold the key to explaining his own situation. His method is to kidnap them, chain them to a pole in an abandoned barracks, and convince them to talk.
“Tell me, whom does art belong to?” (91) When Barnes’ Shostakovich dutifully assists in examining students at the conservatory on their knowledge of Marxist-Leninist ideology, he makes sure to ask only the easiest questions. In this case, the answer is on a large banner in the examination hall: Lenin’s insistence that “ART BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE”.