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A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Essay by review  •  September 28, 2010  •  Essay  •  883 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,221 Views

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The novel, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, is a very detailed and graphic description of one man's life struggle in a Stalinist work camp. It is the story of Ivan Denisovich's, most often going by the name of Shukhov, determination and strength to endure the hardships of imprisonment and dehumanization. The most memorable scene shows Shukhov's determination to survive and adapt to his life. The meal scenes of the novel are where he demonstrates that he has learned to adjust in order to survive. "When you worked for the knowing you gave them quality; when you worked for a fool you simply gave him eyewash" (page 26). This is the most important quote in the novel because it is the law of which Shukhov lives and survives by. This novel is an account of one day of a man's struggle with the life that has been dealt to him.

Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is a man that has learned to deal with a life that is an endless struggle for survival. For example, Shukhov has learned to prioritize the necessities of his life. One being a decent amount of food daily. Shukhov has been able to learn the ropes of the camp and know what he has to do and who he has to interact with in order to get them. He also knows that he should not take lightly what he has and because of that, more than once saved pieces of bread, from an already small meal, for times when he knows he will need them more. Furthermore, Shukhov knows that he is not the only one with a life like his and treats his fellow "zets" with the help and compassion they deserve. He has helped out many of the other zets learn to survive in the work camp and in turn is given more respect than others. In addition, Shukhov, although dehumanized at almost every time of the day, is still able to keep values of his own. Values of respect, to those who have earned it; self pride, so not to be pushed around by just anyone; and even after eight years of facing the bitter cold he will not eat with his hat on. It is Shukhov's character that kept him alive and sane after eight years in the harsh Stalinist Work Camp.

Throughout the novel the meal times are pointed out as being very important to Shukhov. It is during these meal times we are able to see the adaptations and survival skills the Shukhov has gained. During one meal Shukhov goes to great length in order to gain more than one serving of oatmeal. Oatmeal, which he later states he did not think he would ever want so much. Because of the respect he has gained by Pavlov, his deputy squad leader, Shukhov was able to retrieve more than one serving of oatmeal. He was willing to gamble a ten day sentence of misery in a cell in order to have another helping of food This scene is most memorable because it allows you to become more aware of the

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