The first thing I noticed while reading the story, is a very detailed illustration of Matryona’s poverty. She lived in a very old rotten house full of cockroaches and mice, and could only afford eating potatoes or barley for every meal. She worked her whole life for collectivized farm, but the government did not provide any pension for her once she got sick and unable to work. Life of other people in the village was not much better, since they were not able to have an adequ...
... middle of paper ...
...them continued to follow old beliefs.
Through Matryona’s life story, Solzhenitsyn emphasizes how far achievements of civilization remained from lives of peasants in Russian villages in Stalinism era. Any signs of innovation and improvements were saved for cities, while conditions in the villages drastically worsened. Villagers like Matryona would listen about new inventions and Earth satellites through radio as if they were some useless magic wonders, and then they would go on loading peat with forks and eat plain potatoes and barley kasha. Soviet ideology infiltrated Matryona’s life through a wall poster and a radio, but it was unable to change her peasant soul into sophisticated and progressive New Soviet Man. Villagers’ life was a struggle of surviving the winter and finding food to eat, leaving no place for abstract concerns about ideological values.
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