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One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Shawshank Redemption



A parent chooses the punishment to correct the child for his or her wrong. The child though is the person that decides whether the punishment will convict and transform him. The child has the power to choose how the punishment will affect them. In both the novel One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the movie The Shawshank Redemption (1994), punishment is given to a person who did not deserve it. Both Ivan Denisovich Shuhkov and Andy Dufresne are found guilty of a crime they did not commit. The prison tries to punish Shuhkov and Dufresne. However, Shuhkov and Dufresne were able to surmount the prison's attempts. Through their mind they were able to weather the guards' futile attempts at breaking them down.


In the Russian GULAG (Chief Administration of Correctional Labor Camps), Shuhkov was treated in comparison to an animal. He was fed little and worked hard. The GULAG system did not want the prisoner to have a higher thinking, or purpose. Shuhkov tells the reader, "Yes you live with your feet in the mud and there's no time to be thinking about how you got in or how you're going to get out" (Solz 55). A few prisoners were able to overcome the labor camp's control; Shuhkov and Aloysha the Baptist were two. Shuhkov, a concrete thinker used tangible items to survive the harshness of the GULAG. Aloysha the Baptist, on the other hand, is an abstract thinker. He used his religion to reduce the bitterness of camp. Shuhkov knows little of science or textbook education. For example in his discussion with Buinovsky about the moon, Shuhkov shows he knows very little about astrology, but he knows how to use every resource possible. He says, "'God crumbles up the moon into stars'"(Solz 90). In this passage Shuhkov shows his nature to not waste anything. Shuhkov used everyday to the fullest. All that was thought about was that day, no past and no future. He was supposed to be being punished for military actions. The only thing being punished was his body. His mind was his key to survival of the punishment.


Dufresne was tried for the murder of his wife. He ended up with a sentence in Shawshank. In Shawshank, Dufresne was able to use all aspects to survive. He helped out his fellow prisoners with learning and better accommodations, and he used time to work for himself. This helped Dufresne rise to the top of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In prison psychological needs are taken care of through meals and individual cells. Dufresne made comments such as, "All right. But you should know that sudden serious brain injury causes the victim to bite down hard. In fact, I hear the bite reflex is so strong they have to pry the victim's jaws open with a crow bar." (Shaw) to have safety and security. He became liked and a necessary part of the prison life by doing tax forms for the guards. The esteem needed for the next step on the pyramid came from helping out the inmates and the guards. Dufresne was able to see what he was and what he could be. Through all of these actions he was able to reach the pinnacle of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Dufresne's self-transcendence can be shown through him talking to Red about Red's harmonica playing. "Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget. Forget that there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone. That there's a - there's a - there's something inside that's yours, that they can't touch."


With Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs a person is able to overcome an obstacle. Shuhkov, Aloysha the Baptist, and Dufresne all were able to do well and succeed because they were able to rise to the top of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Just like a child being able to choose whether or not the punishment is going to condemn them, Shuhkov, Aloysha the Baptist, and Dufresne were able to choose. They were able to transcend their position through the mind. All took a different way of getting there but the end result was a punishment that did not achieve its purpose.


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