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Quotes

Quote #1

He'd learned to keep his whole mind on the food he was eating. (258)

This sort of single-minded focus doesn't just characterize Shukhov's eating habits; it characterizes his entire approach to living and surviving in the camp.

Quote #2

[Senka had] escaped death by some miracle, and now he was serving his time quietly. Kick up a fuss, he said, and you're done for.

He was right there. Best to grin and bear it. Dig in your heels and they'll break you in two. (268-7)

Senka's attitude here touches upon the running theme of futility, or worthlessness of action. Prisoners who really fight back are easily "broken." But "bearing" it doesn't mean happily accepting things. As Shukhov shows, there's a lot of bending going on, or quiet resistance.

Quote #3

But then, of course, Kildigs could count on a square meal, he got two parcels every month, he had color in his cheeks, and didn't look like a convict at all. He could afford to see the funny side. (293)

Kildigs shows a different approach to camp life than Shukhov. Kildigs has a sense of humor and turns everything into a joke. But Shukhov notably points out the reason for Kildigs good sense of humor, hinting that, for the average prisoner, it's a hard attitude to maintain.

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