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
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...
... middle of paper ...
... 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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