Prison Camp Essay

1135 words - 5 pages

During World War II, a Russian governmental agency called the Gulag administered the Soviet forced labor camp systems. These camps housed about fourteen million people while in effect. About half of these prisoners were imprisoned without a trial. The conditions within these camps were inhumane and with this came the death to about 60% of all soviet prisoners. As seen in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel, “One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich,” shows that the only way to survive in these labor camps is to stay nourished. Not only must one stay physical nourished, but they must also be mentally nourished. In order to keep oneself “properly” nourished they must encompass certain qualities that ...view middle of the document...

The soviet camp has stripped him of everything else, but he takes great pride in the work he does, giving him these feelings of self-identity and dignity. Other prisoners such as Tsezar is able to keep himself unique for the other prisoners by clinging to his care packages that he receives frequently. His connection with the world outside of the prison camp allows him to preserve his humanity. Fetyukov is an example of somebody who doesn’t have any dignity or self-identity. He constantly is begging his fellow workers for extra bread. He doesn’t work as hard as the other workers and does nothing to separate himself from the other. It is obvious that Fetyukov will not survive the remainder of his sentence. If for some reason ratios were to go low (which was a high possibility), then he wouldn’t easily find fellow prisoners to give up some of their food when they were also barely surviving on their sparse amount of food. Along with Fetyukov, some men, which are known as “stoolies”, sink to the lowest level and snitch on their fellow prisoners in order to gain extra rations. However, they will never get to survive off of their rations as they will be killed by the other prisoners.

Solzhenitsyn makes it seem that in order to survive prisoners must be incredibly selfish. Shukhov is concerned with three things in his day to day life at came: acquiring food, eluding punishment, and sleeping. In doing so, Shukhov rejects his wife and two daughters. While they, who obviously miss and love him, write letters to him, he shows little interest and thinks that their letters are pointless. He selfishly doesn’t send any letters back to them who are most likely very eager to hear if he is ok. Shukhov has lost the ability to connect with the outside world in a trade-off for his survival. Even though they were most often murdered, the stoolies are an example of how some men were willing to snitch on their colleagues for personal gains.

Ironically, the prisoners must be willing to work together as they are rewarded when their gangs complete work quickly. However, Solzhenitsyn makes it evident that even though the gangs are working together, each man is only looking out for himself. While working at...

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