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A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch - Essay Example

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Having experienced the ruthlessness of life in prison and labor camps himself,Alexander Solzhenitsyn paints a detailed description of how it is to become a prisoner during the "Satalinist repression" through his novel A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch…
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A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch
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Download file to see previous pages This political novel first appears in 1962 in the Soviet literary magazine Novy Mir which originally purposed to be modeled like the pre-Soviet magazine Mir Bozhy. However, it goes beyond that by publishing controversial issues on Soviet history in order to expose the cruel and brutal realities which have not been publicly unheard. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch becomes controversial because it marks the first mention of forced collectivization of farms and existence of labor camps.The political novel describes in full detail a day in the life of a prisoner named Ivan Denisovitch in one of the Soviet labor camps. Set in a cold winter morning in 1951, the novel opens with the main character waking up sick. Because he "hadn't feel right since the night before" (6), he decides to rise past the wake-up call thinking that the kindly guard is on duty. However, as a different guard is making the rounds, he is punished to clean the guardhouse after which he hurriedly went to the mess hall to have his breakfast. Noting that he should be excused to work because of his illness, he presented himself to the dispensary who concluded that his fever is not high enough for him to be excused.The next portions of the novel provide a description of Ivan's squad, the relationship among the prisoners, and the cruelty that they go through. Every morning and afternoon, each of the prisoners needs to undergo body checks and body count where they need to undress in the freezing cold in order to ensure that they do not possess any prohibited things. Their work is in a construction site where the work condition is hardly bearable. In the coldness of the winter, the mortar utilized in bricklaying readily freezes if not applied fast enough (180). Even in their hard labor, the prisoners suffer from the limited supplies of food (88-89). Ivan tries to survive by outsmarting the people in the kitchen to get a second serving and hiding things which he can exchange for food at a later time.
A notable character in the story is Tsezar who is not required to render manual labor because of his intellect but is confined in the office. Ivan works for him late in the afternoon in exchange for food which is send by Tsezar's family. At the end of the day, Ivan prays and thanks the Lord for granting him good things during the day amidst the torture and cruelty that he suffers throughout it: "Thanks be to Thee, O God, another day over!(560)" The prisoner appreciates the simple things which he considers good fortune in a brutal labor camp.
After reading the novel, I believe that the author has been very effective in communicating his main ideas and issues to his audience. His experience in one of these labor camps, together with the pain it might have caused him is clearly portrayed in every chapter. His illustration of the characters and their individual feelings is evidenced to have been a description of his internal emotions. Reading the novel can be likened to experiencing cruelty in the labor camps first hand because of the specific and vivid details he included. Amidst from the cruel workplace, people in the camp doesn't seem to care. Shokuv laments "Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing" (124).
I believe that the significance of the literary piece should not be only gauged in the artistry of the writer but more importantly, its impact to its readers. During the first time of its publication, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich has stirred interest among Russia because of the controversy it unveils.
A student in this modern world, I can attest the significance of this novel which goes beyond acquainting me to the Soviet history ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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