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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich


by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Rags to Riches

Initial Wretchedness at Home and the "Call"

Shukhov wakes up, spends a stressful morning in the camp, and lines up for work.

If you're wondering how the "riches" part applies here, just bear with us, we think it'll make sense. Shukhov feels ill here and has a stressful morning in the camp where he is unjustly punished for "sleeping late" and is turned away from sickbay. He then has to line up and march to the worksite for a long day.

Out into the World and Initial Success

The gangs march to the worksite and Shukhov nears the end of his workday by laying bricks for a wall.

Shukhov's day starts improving some. He and his gang get a decent assignment, he gets some extra food at dinner, and he finds his work as a bricklayer enjoyable.

Central Crisis

Shukhov is nearly late lining up and the gangs march back to camp late.

After a frantic rush to finish his job, Shukhov is nearly late lining up and gets yelled at by hundreds of tired and angry men. Then the gangs are all late leaving the worksite since another worker was missing. Shukhov is frustrated and tired.

Independence and Final Ordeal

From when the gangs race another group back to camp until after the evening meal.

Shukhov makes it back to camp at an OK time and his time is his own now. However, he must pick up a package and get through a chaotic scene in the mess hall.

Final Union, Completion, and Fulfillment

From the period after the evening meal until the end.

Shukhov ends his day happily after he picks up some good tobacco and earns a reward of food after helping out a fellow inmate. See? He has "riches" now.

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