Prison Camp

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During World War II, a Russian governmental agency called the Gulag administered the Soviet forced labor camp systems. These camps housed about fourteen million people while in effect. About half of these prisoners were imprisoned without a trial. The conditions within these camps were inhumane and with this came the death to about 60% of all soviet prisoners. As seen in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel, “One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich,” shows that the only way to survive in these labor camps is to stay nourished. Not only must one stay physical nourished, but they must also be mentally nourished. In order to keep oneself “properly” nourished they must encompass certain qualities that allow them to gain a leg on the other prisoners so that they can survive. In order to survive, the prisoners must maintain a sense of self-dignity and individuality in a camp whose main goal is to destruct all individual personalities. Although it is very difficult to do this in a camp where the mattresses don’t have sheets, prisoners are strip searched out in the freezing weather, prisoners are called by a random collection of numbers and letter, and all other living conditions are intolerable, one must find something to cling onto that allows them to mentally survive. Shukhov does several things that allow him to remain civil in the harshest of conditions and retain his dignity. For example, at every meal, he removes his cap before eating every meal in order to retain a feeling of civility. Furthermore, Shukhov is inimitable from the other prisoners in that he has a eating spoon that he hides in his boot. This spoon seems to make him feel special and different from everybody else which is exactly the feeling that the camp is trying to dest... ... middle of paper ... ...pensation. Even though one must retain their dignity in order to survive, they still must pay homage to those who have a higher standing in the camp. Shukhov is continuously trying to kiss up to others in order to gain more food. By doing some of the cook’s tasks such as cleaning the bowls, Shukhov earns extra rations, not only for him, but also for the rest of his gang. Shukhov goes to the extent of waiting in the long line at the package office for the higher-ranking prisoner, Tsezar, in hope that he will repay him with his extra rations. Even though Solzhenitsyn only writes about one day at the prison camp, it is evident to the reader what is essential for survival. Each prisoner may have different ways in going about their daily “routines” to acquire the essentials that they need, but, all of the prisoners have the same intent: survive until the next day.
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