VILNIUS, U.S.S.R., JAN. 20 -- The people of Lithuania have turned the huge concrete barricades built here last week to protect the parliament building from Soviet army attack into a canvas for their defiance and grief.

Every morning now, schoolchildren come from class and tape up their harrowing watercolors of tanks crushing a crowd of people, stick-figure soldiers firing on stick-figure Lithuanians. Adults bring their official symbols of Soviet citizenship -- their passports, draft cards and Communist Party cards -- and spike them on sprigs of barbed wire. Students throw copies of the "History of the Communist Party" and "History of the Great Red Army" into small bonfires near the wall. And all around are devastating portraits of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev: Gorbachev kissing former dictator Joseph Stalin; Gorbachev feeding Lithuanians into a meat grinder; Gorbachev in fatigues leading a tank charge.

A week after the Soviet army attack on the Vilnius television station left 13 civilians dead and more than 200 wounded, many officials and citizens here are convinced that Moscow's offensive against Lithuania and its democratically elected parliament is far from over. They are sure that the current standoff, with the army in the city and the legislature working behind the barricades, cannot continue. If the period of Soviet reform is ending or ended, this building and the walls around it are symbols of its demise.

Inside the parliament building, defense volunteers walk around in rag-tag uniforms, carrying ancient hunting rifles or knives. An American former Green Beret who helped the mujaheddin rebels in Afghanistan hands out advice to anyone who will listen. Sandbags are piled high. Arturas Skucas, head of the defense volunteers, sits in a darkened office, a pair of binoculars on his desk, a "Tom and Jerry" cartoon playing soundlessly, crazily on a television.

"It's not like we expect to beat the Red Army," Skucas said, his eyes fixed sadly on the cartoon. "But if they shoot, we shoot back. We'll stay on as long as it takes. Leningrad was under siege for three years {during World War II}. I figure we can last as long."

But as they have been from the start of the independence movement here three years ago, the Lithuanians are under no illusion that they can withstand Moscow with anything other than the expressions and symbols of their own determination. The daily trips to the parliament barricades have the feel of pilgrimage. All day and into the night now, thousands of Lithuanians gather around the yellow-stone building, some sitting around campfires and talking politics, others leading their young children around, trying to explain.

"I wanted to make sure that my daughters saw this and understood it," said Rimas Strazdas, who let his 7- and 9-year-old daughters wander near the wall and its terrible decorations. "For now, we feel as though we have suffered a great defeat, but we cannot be held down, shot at, forever. Time is on our side, and our children have to be prepared for the real struggle that awaits them."

Some children carried their war toys -- plastic Kalashnikov assault rifles and tanks based on Soviet models -- and threw them at the base of the wall. Suddenly, the junk of childhood play had become scary, repulsive. "No more guns! No more!" said one 8-year-old boy named Algirdas.

The spectacle of a barricaded parliament is a shock to anyone who witnessed the euphoria in the same building last March when the legislature declared Lithuania's independence. Ten months ago, crowds near the front door of the building cheered as two workmen pried the hammer and sickle off the wall and replaced it with the traditional symbol of Lithuania. People cried: "And a free Estonia! A free Latvia!" referring to the neighboring Soviet Baltic republics.

Rita Dapkus, a young Chicagoan of Lithuanian descent, was one of a dozen Americans who ran the parliament's press center in those euphoric weeks. They helped engineer a revolution by telex, videotape and facsimile machine, keeping correspondents and supporters around the world informed of every declaration and troop movement in Vilnius just minutes after it happened.

Now Dapkus, like so many other volunteers and legislators, is sleeping in the parliament building. The structure has changed remarkably: its walls are covered with religious pictures and caricatures of Gorbachev.

Little groups of people gather around television sets to watch the British Sky Channel, and they grow edgy when reports from the Persian Gulf War blanket the airwaves and the Baltic republics are all but ignored.

The rumors are endless: "Tonight's the night." "They're going into Latvia in the morning." "The roof's been rigged so the helicopters can't land."

Dapkus looks exhausted, as if she had aged 10 years since May and June. "Back then in the spring, who ever thought it would get so bad?" she said. "Now look what we are down to. This building has become a ritual, a symbol of what is left of independent Lithuania. It's kind of like the fire everyone gathers around, a uniting principle, and we are not prepared to give it up."

Dapkus used to dream of going home to Chicago and beginning a career in journalism. But after watching the attack on the television station, after a week of sleeping on the floor of her office here and wondering if and when the troops would "finish the nasty job," she's changed her mind.

"When this happened, something inside of me snapped. Like so many people here, I've changed," she said. "Now I've made a decision. I'm staying in Lithuania. Forever."