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Quotes

Quote #1

His wife's dearest hope was that when he got home he would keep clear of the kolkhoz and take up dyeing himself. That way they could get out of the poverty she was struggling against, send their children to trade schools, and build themselves a new cottage in place of their old tumble-down place. (227)

Shukhov's wife is a really interesting character, though she never appears and we hear comparatively little about her. The fact that her future hopes hinge on Shukhov's return creates a lot of pathos for Shukhov's overall situation. Pathos is a literary device, and it's basically a way of saying that the language creates sympathy in the reader. For instance, the diction here – words like "struggling" and "tumble-down" – help us to feel sympathy for Shukhov's family.

Quote #2

Shukhov still had quite a bit of time to do - a winter, a summer, another winter, another summer (228)

The time Shukhov measures out here sounds deceptively short, which is interesting given that before his seasonal list he notes he has "quite a bit" of time left in the camps. Shukhov's future is largely a question mark and he often has trouble planning beyond the end of his sentence.

Quote #3

His fingers were wonderfully nimble, and his mind raced ahead, planning his next moves. (134)

This is one of the best characterizations of Shukhov in the whole novel. Shukhov is a lot like a chess player and he's very strategic in his thinking, always planning out his next "move."

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