One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Essay
Joseph Stalin strategically came into power in communist Russia in the 1930’s. Within just a few years, he turned Russia from a communist state into a totalitarian dictatorship. Few people chose to speak out against Stalin, but those who did were put into Siberian work camps or gulags. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was one of the few that chose to speak out against Stalin and his totalitarian regime. He used his years in the work camps to illustrate a vivid portrayal of what camp life was like in his book, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The novel is a criticism against Stalin’s communism, and is a commentary on why a communistic system will never work. Three of the biggest ways the novel critiques communism are: by attempting to dehumanize Russian society, displaying forms of unjust punishment, and arguing the importance of faith. Solzhenitsyn propagates the radical idea that communism doesn’t work. Communism is the idea that everyone in society receives equal shares of the benefits resulting from labor. It teaches the poor to rise up and attain financial and social status equal to that of the middle-class. In order for everyone to be on the same level, wealth is redistributed so the members of the upper class are brought down to the same financial and social level as the middle class (Coffin 660-665). In theory, communism is presented as to be a utopia where everyone has adequate food and shelter but in the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, it is clear communism in practice is very different from communism in ideology. The communism Solzhenitsyn presents in this novel actually tries to take away any form of human dignity. The story takes place in a Russian prison camp after World War II. The protagonist is a man named Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, but referred to as Shukhov for most of the novel. The author refers to Ivan as Shukhov to emphasize the how the camp sets him at a cold, official distance....
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