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Character Strength in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Character Strength in "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a novel about survival.

Solzhenitsyn shows us how even in seemingly atrocious circumstances

each person can find sources of strength that gives them the will to

carry on. Many of the things that the prisoners think of as their

sources of strengths would mean nothing to us, but if one thinks about

it, without them we would perhaps lose the will to carry on.

Most of the prisoners have more than one source of strength, perhaps

subconsciously they have made their own fail safes. If they lost one

source, they would have other more personal reasons to carry on. The

two main factors of strength that the prisoners need are physical

strength and mental strength. All the prisoners have access to the

basic source of physical strength, nutrition. The meals that the

prisoners are given are just enough to keep them alive, but not enough

to supply them for an extended period of time. This dependency on food

allows the authorities to keep the prisoners on a short leash. A

prisoner without food would not survive very long, even if he has many

other things to carry on for. The physical need for food is not a

choice, and therefore it is a necessity. Bread is symbolic in the

novel, for most of the prisoners it is simply nourishment, it also has

religious meaning.

Alyosha thinks of the bread as a form of religious sustenance. The

Bible refers to bread as the flesh of Christ. To Alyosha, religion is

his biggest source of strength. He uses religion and literature to

shut out the horrible physical conditions he has to live through.

Religion and literature are his salvation. Shukhov envies Alyo...

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... his team and this gives him a sense of higher purpose.

Shukhov takes control of the building of the wall, and the other

prisoners look up to him and listen to what he says. He ascends to

Tiurin’s rank in the prisoners’ minds as they see him as a leader. It

is with his leadership that the wall is well built.

The novel shows us that the strength to live, to carry on, can be

found everywhere. Even in the most terrible situations, there are

always things that can be found, done or even created to give us

strength, both physically and mentally. Solzhenitsyn really shows us

that even in times where hope would see useless, we can always find a

sense of purpose. It is the prisoners that are able to do this that

will survive, and when they finally get out, they will be released

into a world where they will want to use every object, every second,

to the fullest.

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