One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The 104th

The 104th is the labour-camp team to which the protagonist, Ivan Denisovich, belongs. Although there are over 20 members, the book describes the following characters the most thoroughly:

  • Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, the protagonist of the novel. The reader is able to see Russian camp life through Denisovich's eyes, and information is given through his thoughts, feelings, and actions.
  • Alyosha (Alyoshka),[6] a Baptist. He believes that being imprisoned is something he has earned, since it allows him to reflect more on God and Jesus. Alyosha is, surprisingly, able to hide part of a Bible in the barracks. Shukhov responds to his beliefs by saying that he believes in God but not heaven or hell, nor in spending much time on the issue.
  • Gopchik, a young member of the squad who works hard and for whom Shukhov has fatherly feelings, as he reminds Shukhov of his dead son. Gopchik was imprisoned for taking food to Ukrainian ultranationalists. Shukhov believes Gopchik has the knowledge and adjustment skills to advance far at the camp.
  • Andrey Prokofyevich Tiurin (Tyurin), the foreman/squad leader of the 104th. He has been in the camp for 19 years. Tiurin likes Shukhov and gives him some of the better jobs, but he is only part of the camp hierarchy: Tiurin must argue for better jobs and wages from the camp officers in order to please the squad, who then must work hard in order to please the camp officers and get larger rations.
  • Fetiukov (Fetyukov), a member of the squad who has thrown away all of his dignity. He is particularly seen as a lowlife by Shukhov and the other camp members. He shamelessly scrounges for bits of food and tobacco.
  • Tsezar Markovich (Caesar), an inmate who works in the camp offices and has been given other special privileges; for example, his civilian fur hat was not confiscated by the Personal Property department and he is allowed to wear it. Tzesar is a film director who was imprisoned before he could finish his first feature film. Some discussions in the novel indicate that he holds formalist views in art, which were probably the reason for his imprisonment. A cultured man, Tzesar discusses film with Buynovsky. His somewhat higher class background assures him food parcels.
  • Buinovsky (Buynovsky, "The Captain"), a former Soviet Naval captain. A relative newcomer to the camp, Buynovsky was imprisoned after an admiral on a British cruiser on which he had served as a naval liaison sent him a gift. In the camp, Buynovsky has not yet learned to be submissive before the warders.
  • Pavlo, a Ukrainian who serves as deputy foreman/squad leader and assists Tiurin in directing the 104th, especially when Tiurin is absent.
  • Ivan Kilgas, the leading worker of the 104th squad along with Shukhov. Latvian by birth, he speaks Russian like a native, having learned it in his childhood. Kilgas is popular with the team for making jokes.
  • Senka Klevshin, a member of the 104th who became deaf from intense fighting during World War II, and having escaped and been recaptured three times by the Germans ended up in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

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