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Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich

1247 words - 5 pages

This assignment is based on Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Through a creative approach, I will be demonstrating some of the aspects of Solzhenistsyn’s text. I will be inserting a scene in which Shukhov, the protagonist, is sitting outside, adjusting his boots. This text is full of a plethora of literary techniques and symbols but the aim of my piece is to specifically demonstrate the stylistic feature of time, two of the three narrative styles and certain symbols via the above scenario.

First published in 1962, this work depicts Stalin’s forced-work camps through labour-camp inmate Ivan Denisovich, Shukhov, and his struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression. This novel portrays the lives of prisoners in a Siberian prison camp , in the post World War Two Stalinist era. The setting itself is symbolic of the Soviet government oppression.

The style of text flows evenly, although only one day has been illustrated. The entire story itself is focused on central characteristics in a specific location and fixed period of time. Although there is no distortion in time, we are given an impression that it takes place longer than just one day and it is symbolic of the day to day survival of the prisoners.

The time period seems longer than in reality and I will demonstrate this aspect through my piece, in which, only a small action takes place, yet the time frame it is encompassed within seems longer.

There are three narrative styles present in this text. One style used is ‘skaz’, a variation of traditional Russian narrative form, wherein there is an anonymous narrator who is on the
same intellectual level as the protagonist but gives an impression that the story is being told in first person. With this form, we see through Shukhov’s eyes, yet he is not the narrator. The second narrative style employed is the omniscient educated narrator, through which the author presents his own philosophical views. The last narrative form is Shukhov himself, in third person, mainly describing flashbacks and dreams. Solzhenitsyn employed this method to give an objective view of Shukhov’s life.

In my piece, I will be utilising the ‘skaz’ and the omniscient educated perspectives. I have chosen to write my piece in at least two of the narrative styles presented, due to the fact that the novel itself gives us three different points of view, giving us more than one interpretation of the dilemma.

The three symbols I have chosen to demonstrate in my piece are the spoon, the sun and the cold. I have chosen these as a result of their importance in conveying the author’s message and his insight into lives of prisoners in Soviet prison camps.

Shukhov’s spoon is representative of his individualism and dignity. Shukhov “always kept” his spoon “in one boot” and “even in the rush to leave the barracks , he hadn’t forgotten it”. “Shukhov was very fond of this spoon, which had gone with him all over...

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