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
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
... middle of paper ...
... Research Inc., 1992.
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Twentieth Century Literature 23 (1977): 498-517. Rpt in
^îSolzhenitsyn.^ï World Literary Criticism: 1500 to the
Present. Ed. James P. Draper. Detroit: Gale Research
Remnick, David. Ressurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia.
New York: Random House Inc., 1998
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
Trans. Max Hayward and Ronald Hingely. New York: Bantam
Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1990.
Terras, Victor. A History of Russian Literature. New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1991.
Wilson, Edmund. A Window on Russia: For the Use of Foreign
Readers. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1943.
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