In One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the prisoners have been physically imprisoned in a Russian labor camp. The main character, Ivan Denisovich, has been sent to serve for eight years . In the camps, prisoners have no rights; it is cold; there is much intense labor; they are not fed sufficiently; and their lives revolve around survival. The prisoners work hard without any freedoms and gain nothing but personal satisfaction from the hard hours of labor. Everyday, the prisoners must fight for their survival, scavenging for extra food and managing to make the best of their situation. However, the mental and emotional toll on these prisoners is much stronger than the physical imprisonment they experience on a day-to-day basis. The prisoners must maintain useful connections for survival but always be cognizant for helpful steps they can take to stay alive. Even though they are physically unable to leave and are forced into physical labor, it is a much harsher reality realizing that they have no rights and nowhere to call home. The prisoners experience a much more intense mental and emotional imprisonment than a physical one.
Emotional Imprisonment is a situation in which one is emotionally enclosed without freedoms. There are many instances in which this can be seen throughout the book. Many of the prisoners have beliefs and codes by which live their lives. For example, Shukov always eats with his spoon and always takes his hat off before meals. ”Next, he removed his cap from his shaven head—however cold it was, he wouldn’t let himself eat with his cap on—and stirred up his skilly, quickly checking what had found its way into his bowl” (Solzhenitsyn,16). There is a new prisoner who crosses himself before he eats. There is also a prisoner named Alyoshka who is a devout baptist. Alyoshka always keeps his journal hidden that contains parts of the New Testament. However, the camps try to take these prisoners’ feelings and beliefs and change them to...
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