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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Quote #1

But at that very moment the hand of authority whipped his jerkin and his blanket away. [...] Down below, with his head on the level of the upper bunk, stood the gaunt Tartar. (25)

It's interesting that the "hand of authority" is depicted as almost God-like here; it's not an actual person yanking Shukhov's blanket away, but some sort of omnipotent, or all-powerful and all-knowing, force. Or a mad parent. Either way.

Quote #2

Every portion was underweight - the only question was by how much. Twice a day you looked at it and tried to set your mind at rest. Maybe they haven't robbed me blind this time? (132)

Injustice is a constant theme throughout this text and the zeks have to confront, and largely let slide, various injustices throughout the day. There's no way to directly fight injustice in the camp, as we see with poor Buynovsky, who gets tossed in the hole after protesting his unfair treatment.

Quote #3

"Maybe it was in their day!" the captain snapped back. "Since then it's been decreed that the sun is highest at one o'clock."
"Who decreed that?"

"The Soviet government."

The captain took off with the handbarrow, but Shukhov wasn't going to argue anyway. As if the sun would obey their decrees! (363-6)

We don't get many direct mentions of the Soviet government in the book, but it's definitely the unspoken, and harsh, force behind the entire camp system. It is interesting that the Soviet government is invoked, or brought up, directly in relation to an illogical decree. Like the camps, the entire government itself passed a lot of irrational "decrees."

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