One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
He couldn't see anything but he knew that from the sounds just what was going on in the hut and in his own gang's corner. (9)
The idea that the days in the camp are very similar, and in a sense one gigantic, never-ending day, appears here. Shukhov can know exactly what's happening without even looking. It's like Groundhog Day.
Shukhov drew his spoon from his boot. That spoon was precious, it had traveled all over the north with him. He'd cast it himself from aluminum wire in a sand mold and scratched on it: "Ust-Izhma, 1944." (84)
Shukhov's few possessions are very precious to him. His little spoon almost acts like a portable memorial for him since he's confronted with how many years he's been in the camp every day when he uses it.
The way his brush moved as he painted a number on a cap made you think of a priest anointing a man's forehead with holy oil. (158)
This little throw-away reference of Shukhov's is really quite revealing. Shukhov often mentions how prisoners have little time to recall the past and how home is very hard to recall. But here he seems to remember something almost unconsciously because of the artist's manner, which may be the artist's own way of holding onto his own past and his own dignity.