One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich Essay

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Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, a Russian author with first-hand experience of labor camp conditions, relates the experiences of millions of his compatriots, and his Russian readers by showing the world that humanity can be achieved in the most degrading of places. Such a theme can be observed closely in his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, first published in 1962. As the title suggests, the novel is about a day in the Gulag from dawn to dusk from Ivan’s perspective. Through Ivan, Solzhenitsyn explores some important aspects of life as a Russian prisoner. One of the most important ideas that are discussed is the aspect of dehumanization. The prison camp is designed to strip the Zeks of their individual identities and dignity. The prisoners’…show more content…
Solzhenitsyn uses Fetyukov to show the contrast between zeks that let go of humanity and those that choose to maintain it. There is a moral gap between Ivan and Fetyukov as he is willing do anything for a little more food, and he is properly referred to as a scavenging animal. “Right then he seemed to yearn for that [cigarette] butt more than for freedom itself, but he wouldn't lower himself like Fetyukov, wouldn't look at Tsezar's mouth”(29). Ivan, in contrast, will swindle and bully, at times, but basically, he relies on his resourcefulness to achieve the same goal. He does not lick bowls, he does not give or take bribes, and he is respectful when necessary. “He [Ivan] ate up his skilly without taking much interest in what was happening around him. No need for that he was eating his own lawful portion.” (122). Ivan wants to become "the ideal prisoner," represented by U-81, the old camp inmate whom Ivan admires.“… U-81… this old man… instead of lowering his head to the bowl like everybody else, he raised the spoon high to his lips.”(122). Solzhenitsyn shows that as humans we work to protect our

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