Ivan Denisovich and Humanity

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Ivan Denisovich and Humanity

Who could possibly be able to imagine the utter hopelessness and misery that a soviet prisoner experienced during Stalinism. Thousands of innocent men were taken from their families, homes, and lives, stripped of their dignity and banished to the harsh labor camps where they were to spend the rest of the days scraping out an existence and living day to day. This is exactly what Alexander Solzhenitsyn tries to express in his masterpiece work One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Solzhenitsyn gives the reader a glimpse into the life of every man who ever experienced this hardship and shares the small acts of thriving humanity that are sparingly, but unendingly passed through their dreary lives and offer a bit of comfort to help them get through a single hour, a day, or even just a meal time. Solzhenitsyn uses One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to portray the endurance of humanity through out terrible hardships and shows the strength of the human spirit.

Through out the day Ivan observes various acts of humanity that help him and his fellow prisoners retain a portion of their dignity even though the camps are specifically designed to completely degrade their captives. Denisovich, or Shukhov as he is called, uses small acts of consideration to help him and his gang get through the day. On the second page of the book, the reader learns that Shukhov often gets up early in the morning so that he may have a little time to himself and so he may even “bring one of the big gang bosses his dry felt boots while he was still in his bunk, to save him the trouble of hanging around the pile of boots in his bare feet and trying to find his own.” (pg.2). Though Shukhov may do various odd jobs such as “running around to one of the supply rooms where there might be a little job, sweeping or carrying something” or “going to the mess hall to pick up bowls from the tables and take piles of them to the dishwashers” in order to receive extra food, but this can also be seen as an act of honor. Rather than doing an underhanded deed such as stealing food from innocent men the way the camp orderlies do, Shukhov tries to earn his food through honest work such as repairing boots, making things to sell, or doing extra work.
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