One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The Identity of Shukhov: Persistence and Dignity in "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" 9th Grade

A sense of identity is what defines the human being, what sets each person apart from the next, is the constitution of an individual. In the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the author uses information from personal experiences in Soviet prison camps, or gulags, to create a story explaining the identity of a fictional character named Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. As the reader imbibes passages delineating the life of this character, one can see how his environment strips him of his identity, how he preserves his individuality with dignity and etiquette, and how he has established bonds with those around him. The novel portrays one day in Shukhov's life, but it also describes exactly what and how his identity has become.

The environment of the gulag is harsh to the highest degree. Filled with political prisoners who had in some way opposed Stalin's regime, the prisoners feared not so much each other as the harsh guards, the fearsomely cold weather, and starvation. The gulag seems to try to strip Shukhov's identity from him, replacing his name with a sound and a number. “Shcha-854, the Tartar read out from the white patch on the the back of the black jacket” (Solzhenitsyn 7). As well as the...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 943 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7598 literature essays, 2152 sample college application essays, 318 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in