Camp As An Unpleasant Place To Live In Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich."

1241 words - 5 pages

Alexander Solzhenitsyn creates the impression that the camp is an unpleasant place to live through using interesting methods. He creates a theme of constant search for warmth, food and sleep. His style of writing and use of particular language are significant parts of creating such an impression. Solzhenitsyn creates a feeling of isolation to strengthen the reader's negative impression of the camp. "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" is a historical document rather than a novel. For the first time in the history of Soviet Russia the truth about the gulags was spoken, and spoken loud. The truth, the undisguised reality, indeed, is horrific and unexpected. The fact that the book shows the reality from the first-hand knowledge reinforces the negative impression of the life in the camp.To create an impression of an unpleasant life in the gulag, Solzhenitsyn sets up a theme of a continuous searching. The constant of hunger remains during the whole novel. The author describes the camp food rations in details. In the beginning of Shukhov's day there is a one-page description of the food that prisoners get for breakfast. "The stew was the same every day. Its composition dependent on the kind of vegetable provided that winter" (Solzhenitsyn, 14). Solzhenitsyn then shows how carefully and thoughtfully Shukhov treats his bread portion. Even though the prisoner's daily bread ration is incredibly small, only16 ounces, the camp's administration manages to short weight it. The author tells that "honest weight was never to be found in the bread-cutting. There was short weight in every ration. The only point was how short" (20-21). This dishonesty is very unjust, and proves the troublesome impression of the camp life-style.Apart from food, the prisoners have a constant search for warming and sleep. "Wherever a zek gets a bit of warmth into him he falls asleep on the spot. You lose so much energy during the week that on a Sunday - provided they don't send you to work - whole barrackfuls of zeks asleep the day through" (131). Solzhenitsyn shows a feeling of cold that prisoners have all the time, especially during their way to work, so realistic, that a reader can feel it himself and shudder. That's why the zeks always search for a warm corner, a stove wall near which they could sit and feel warmer even though for a few minutes. No wonder that Shukhov didn't want to get up that morning in barracks, "with the windows iced over and the white cobwebs of frost all along the huge barracks where the walls joined the ceiling!" (4). The more Solzhenitsyn describes the life in barracks, the more it is contrasting with this of guards, who had a bigger and better stove, more comfort, warmer clothes and more food than prisoners did. Solzhenitsyn shows Shukhov's main interests which are simple like those of animals: how to get an extra bowl of food, how not to get frozen outside in the biting Siberian cold, and how to save some energy in a weak, tired from a constant hunger...

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