Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn-One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Every 1st Sunday of the month

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The worms will be discussing One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov has been sentenced to a camp in the Soviet gulag system. He was accused of becoming a spy after being captured briefly by the Germans as a prisoner of war during World War II. He is innocent, but is sentenced to ten years in a forced labor camp.

The day begins with Shukhov waking up sick. For waking late, he is forced to clean the guardhouse, but this is a comparatively minor punishment. When Shukhov is finally able to leave the guardhouse, he goes to the dispensary to report his illness. It is relatively late in the morning by this time, however, so the orderly is unable to exempt any more workers and Shukhov must work.

The rest of the novel deals mainly with Shukhov's squad (the 104th, which has 24 members), their allegiance to the squad leader, and the work that the prisoners (zeks) do in hopes of getting extra food for their performance. For example, they are seen working at a brutal construction site where the cold freezes the mortar used for bricklaying if not applied quickly enough. Solzhenitsyn also details the methods used by the prisoners to survive; the whole camp lives by the rule of survival of the fittest.