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Explain the struggle that the prisoners have for their dignity. The Russian labor camp where Ivan Denisovich (Shukhov) was imprisoned is designed to attack it`s prisoners’ spiritual and physical dignity. The prisoners live in conditions nearly inhumane. Beds do not have sheets; prisoners eat only few pieces of bread per meal (when they got it); and if the conditions and the bad food wasn`t enough problem, the guards forces the prisoners to undress for body searches, even if the temperature is below zero. The spirits of the prisoners are also destroyed by the guards (who abuses of the power that they have on their hands) whom takes the prisoners names and replace them with numbers and letters. Perhaps Ivan`s number was “Shcha-854”. The idea of taking their names out is a destruction of their individuality and personality. We can say that this is the intention of treating them as animals, rather than humans.
Throughout developing a personal belief, Shukhov shows to me that he won`t allow the attempt of dehumanization that the guard put upon him. For example during meal time Shukhob always takes his cap out, what is a symbol of civilized manner. Shukhov is constantly treated as a animal by the Soviet guards, but his persistence on being “human” makes kind of a war against the rules and systems that imprisons him.
Explain the symbolism of the Bread and Shukhov`s spoon.
If we pay close attention to the novel, no prisoners have anything, all that they have is the concentration camp clothe, that`s it. The spoon that Shukhov hides on his boot represents his individuality, he has one thing that nobody else has, and he is unique. This idea of enjoying the spoon is that subtlety that makes Ivan more civilized, more human. Later on the spoon becomes a symbol of the things that the prisoners hide, what makes them more unique in the concentration camp.
The bread is a symbol of nourishment in the novel, even though the bread provides a physical sustenance to the prisoners but it`s also more important than religion. Alyoshka`s reference to God is the bread, he even say “our daily bread” what satisfy the spiritual diet that bread offers. Given though food is one of the most important requisites to survival, later on in the novel we see that Alyoshka says to Shukhov that we must sometimes satisfy our soul (the spirit), rather than just worry about ourselves. With this in mind Shukhov gives one of his precious cookies to Alyoshka (Sharing is caring).
Chose an important passage from the novel and explain it.
“Next, he removed his cap from his shaven head-however cold it was, he wouldn’t let himself eat with his cap on-and stirred up his skilly, quickly checking what had found its way into his bowl.”
When cowboys take his hat out, it mean respect. When Shukhov takes his hat out to eat is an attempt the keep his individuality and his dignity. The idea of taking the hat is showing the guards that he have the power over himself. What is contradictory, what the narrators says “quickly checking what had found its way into the bowl”. He has the power over his spiritual way, but does not have the power over the physical way.
Removing his cap is a gesture of civilized man towards the camp appearance. The camp regulation does not require the prisoners to remove their caps during the meals, and given though the meal hall is cold, taking the hat off cause some discomfort to Shukhov. But this little sacrifice does not bother Ivan at all. Shukhov think that civilized people takes their hats off when sitting at the table.
Chose the character that you liked and analyze him/she.
Tyurin, a foreman in the concentration camp, big and though person a man that imposes respect (by the way, respect is an important thing in a concentration camp). Ivan noticed that Tyurin don`t move a muscle when the cold Siberian wind blows through his face. We see that Tyurin in the beginning of the novel is a distant and astounding character associated with punishment. However, he becomes more sympathetic figure when, at the power station, he talks about his life.
Tyurin symbolizes the camp`s lack of justice, given though he like everybody else, was thrown into the concentration camp without a deserving being there. Tyurin was only in the Russian concentration camp because his father was a rich man that belonged to the kulak, class that Stalin wanted to exterminate, and unfortunately, like everyone else in the camp Tyurin was unfairly condemned to by in prison per life. Tyurin misery in the camp is essentially because he does not belong to the social group as everybody else. He also shows us that a life of a camp guard can be even worse that a prisoner`s one, and without the community or camaraderie that the prisoners can provide, Tyurin is treated as the soviet authority, even though he still a prison`s person, like the other prisoners.
Why the writers call the protagonist Ivan Denisovich in the title, but not throughout the novel?
“Miss” or “Miss Evans” is there a difference?
There is a difference in calling one person by his/her name and but some kind of title. When one called a person by his`/her`s names it means I sigh that you are humanizing that person, he/she is one Individual. In the novel Solzhenitsyn makes the usage of two different names in order to emphasis the importance and the power of names for an individual. There is one difference between the names “Shukhov” and “Ivan Denisovich”. Shukhov representse bureaucracy, important and serious actions. The name Ivan Dennisovich evokes the idea of trusting.
Solidarity and mistrust can be showed by using these names. In the concentration camp people that are friendly to each other, call each other by the first name, with the Christian name first and then the second name, or fathers name, this way of addressing to people creates between the prisoners a sense of equality. However we see that the prisoners do not trust Fetyukov, therefore he is called by his family name. The way how prisoners call each other represents how good their relationship is, if they respect one another, of if they don`t like one another, if they are close friends or just companions.
Explain the lack of privacy on the concentration camp.
In the novel one can see that the prisoners` life is the representation of how the Soviet regime makes private events public, this is a weapon used to control individuals. The inmates does not have personal space, that`s like dreaming with freedom, something impossible, and every move that they do is monitored by the camp guards. One example of it is when the commander decrees that going to the bathroom (if you can call what they have a bathroom) alone is not allowed anymore, they must go with a guard. Even this has become public also. The camp rules took their names that represent their private identity, with letter and numbers. Prisoners are no longer considered private individuals, but symbols in a public system, that`s controlled by the Soviets. Even with all this lack of privacy, the prisoners always have something to stick with, for example, Alyoshka latches on his faith; Tsezar to his care packages; and Shukhov to his precious spoon. In this world of misery and dehumanizing environment, everyone tries to keep one foot in his own privacy, therefore preserving their humanity.
Does the cold have any importance in the novel?
In “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” the cold not only represents the physical abuse, but also symbolizes the manner how the prisoners are treated inside of the camp. Body searching that in a prison in Brazil would be a normal routine; in the Soviet camp is the worst of the tortures in temperatures below the forty degrees. Shukhov not only have to concentrate to do not get in trouble to don`t be punished by the guard, but he also have to protect himself against the cold.
Solzhenitsyn constantly emphasis the cutting wind that passes through the camp, making us realize that Shukhov is not only a political prisioner, but also a natures prisoner. No one never tried to escape from the concentration camp, for obvious reasons (The weather is aggressively cold, and for the fact that is in the middle of nowhere), what would cause a quick death. The combination between, the cold weather and the inhuman-conditions inside the camp, makes Shukhov and his fellows think that the whole universe is against them. All of this is the sense of oppression highlighting the human`s suffering, and saying that the world is unreceptive, you must survive the today to leave the tomorrow.
What is so important about Camaraderie in the camp?
Concentration camps do not encourage people to be friendly with each other (NOTE: that’s something that I think that the writer created in the novel, in order to have a good story). But in the novel we see that Shukhov have a few friends or comrades, and that is what helps him and the other to face difficulties. Building friendship in the Soviet concentration camp is almost impossible, given though the prisoner come from different countries, social classes (like Tyurin), from totally different educational backgrounds, and if that is not enough, they are encouraged by the commander and the camp guards to spy each other in other to receive rewards.
Breaking the rules in a Soviet camp is a brave decision, because if the commander or one of the guards realizes that one broke a rule, this person is going to be punished hardly. Nevertheless, we see some trust among the prisoner, nobody denounces anyone. For example, although Shukhov knows that Estonians and Alyoshka have seemed him hiding some pieces of bread under the bed, he is not worry that they will report him. That is one thing that Solzhenitsyn try to show us, even in subhuman conditions the feeling of solidarity in men`s heart is strong.
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