One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

An Analysis of Ivan’s role as an Existential Character in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 12th Grade

In his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzhenitsyn illustrates the struggle for survival zeks faced within the GULAG. He elucidates this effectively through the portrayal of a day’s experiences in the life of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a working-class prisoner in a Stalinist labor camp. Having had first-hand experiences with this communist regime himself, Solzhenitsyn establishes Ivan and his routine to typify that of an ordinary citizen within the Russian society; just as he once was too. He vividly presents Ivan’s character through the use of various techniques in order to portray Ivan’s existential approach to his imprisonment and survival within a brutal system of injustice. In One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Solzhenitsyn develops Ivan as an existential character to juxtapose and contrast the gruelling environment propagated by the GULAG authority through the exemplification of Ivan’s behavioral code, and his seamless transition into the absurd setting of the GULAG, in turn producing symbols which serve to compliment Ivan’s existential characteristics.

Solzhenitsyn expands on Ivan’s existential nature through one of Ivan’s most significant traits; the behavioral code by which he lives....

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