You Won't Break My Spirit

Topics: Gulag, Prison, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Pages: 3 (966 words) Published: November 11, 2001
In the novel "A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich" by Solzhenitsyn, I found that Ivan Denisovich (Shukhov) resisted the dehumanizing aspects of the gulag; by not allowing the spirit destroying atmosphere of the gulag to take away his human dignity and appreciation for life.

Throughout the story, the author concentrates on the theme of time and it's significance to Shukhov's existence in the gulag. Time in this sense can be broken into two separate entities. The first example is the time owned by the guards in the prison, where Shukhov's daily routines are strictly regimented and monitored. As this time does not belong to him, it almost appears to be surreal. The second form of "time" is that which Shukhov manages to find for himself. During these rare and precious moments, our character is able to reflect upon and remember him self, thus helping him to maintain some degree of dignity and pride, which appear to be the most fundamental of his attributes. However as these moments are sporadic and scarce, the time he takes is often in his own mind with his thoughts allowing him the freedom he so richly craves, even while under scrutiny. To further illustrate these observations, consider the following examples from a day in the life of Shukhov.

At five o'clock in the morning the reveille sounds and Ivan Denisovivh Shukhov awakens to the icy cold barracks of the Soviet prison camp. Often he awakens immediately because the following ninety minutes are his. Every morning before roll call, Shukhov is making money sewing mittens, bringing people their valenki (felt work boots), or helping in the mess hall. However Shukhov tries to avoid the mess hall because licking the left over bowls for extra food is too tempting. Shukhov remembers what an old prisoner Kuziomin once told him, "That people who lick out others bowls and count on doctors don't survive in the gulag." On this morning Shukhov had been feeling ill and remained in bed. As he lay there trying to stay...
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