The Theme of Hope in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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The Theme of Hope in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

In Alexander Solzhenitsyn's novel One Day in the Life of

Ivan Denisovich, the strong themes of hope and perseverance are

undercut by the realization that for Ivan there is little or no

purpose in life. This is not to say that the themes of hope and

perseverance do not exist in the novel. There are numerous

instances in the novel where Shukhov is filled with hope.

However, these moments of hope amidst the banal narrative of the

novel raise the interesting question: Are these moments of hope

pointless? The answer to this question may lie more in the

individual human nature of the reader than in Solzhenitsyn's

literary technique. Whether pointless or not, Solzhenitsyn

offers many instances in the novel where the themes of hope and

perseverance are evident. The glimpses of hope which Ivan

Denisovich sees includes the few moments after reveille that the

prisoners have to themselves, respecting his fellow prisoners,

taking pride in a job well done, and enjoying simple food and

tobacco.

Solzhenitsyn wrote One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in

such a fashion that the brutality of the Soviet labor camps is

not emphasized. Instead of focusing on the brutality of the

camps, Solzhenitsyn focused on one day in the life of a very

ordinary prisoner. However, the fact that Ivan Denisovich

Shukhov is such an ordinary man and is still able to find hope in

the most menial of tasks is inspiring. Joseph Frank states that

"Solzhenitsyn's fundamental theme is precisely the affirmation of

character, the ability to survive in a nightmare world where

mora...

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