One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Issues of Solidarity

"One should never direct people toward happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to." --- Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich examines a cruel and authoritarian system that attempts to deteriorate the human spirit. Embedded in the milieu of a Siberian labor camp is a movement to destroy its prisoners' solidarity and endorse primitive behavior for individual survival. In actuality, this effort forces a bond of unity among the prisoners and restores a sense of long-absenced humanity. Through the portrayal of the characters in his novel, Solzenitsyn demonstrates that solidarity and humanity overcome and even intensify during the harshest conditions, despite an environment which attempts to wipe them out.

The Soviet authorities that govern this prison camp system depend on the prisoner-workers to be at destructive odds with one another as a means of controlling them. However, this status quo within the camp has the reverse effect...

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