The Dehumanization on Ivan Denisovich
The novel “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” follows the life of a prisoner in a Siberian labor camp during the communist period. Although the novel only describes one day in the life of this prisoner, the author succeeds at making the motifs that occur most likely every day clear to the reader. A major motif in the novel “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn is dehumanization; Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is striped of his humanity because he is treated similarly to the way an animal would be treated. He is given instructions every second of the day, and has no say in how to live his life. Dehumanization occurs when people view others as less than human, therefore not giving them the moral respect they deserve as humans. In this particular Stalinist labor camp, in which the main character Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is imprisoned, the officers are instructed to attack the prisoner’s dignity, therefore they are taking away their humanity, treating them like they would treat a cattle, not people.
As soon as the novel begins, so does Shukhov’s day. When he opens his eyes, he already knows how the day will proceed, because all days are the same. He must go for breakfast at the same time every other prisoner does. This shows that he doesn’t have a say in when to do things, even such a basic need that many take for granted. Yet he does not complain, this is due to the fact that food is valuable to him and he has limited access to it. The prisoners are not only instructed when to eat, but they also have to compete for food, the same way a group of chickens would fight for some grain. This fact is clearly shown when the narrator describes the scene shortly before Shukhov receives his meal, “the cook shouted through the hatch, and people were shoving at him from the other side ” (86). This shows how the workers have to fight to their food, as if they were savages. The cooks treat the men like...
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