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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich


by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Rules and Order Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph). We used H.T. Willetts's translation.

Quote #1

Washing the floor was a job for the hut orderly, a zek who wasn't sent out to work. But he had made himself so much at home in the HQ hut that [...] for some time now he'd regarded cleaning floors for mere warders as demeaning. They'd sent for him a time or two, then realized how things stood and started "pulling" one or another of the working prisoners to clean the floor. (41)

Informal rules and understandings dominate everything in the camp, to the point that living and surviving there requires learning of tacit, or understood but unspoken, agreements about how things work. It's almost like learning a whole new language.

Quote #2

There are two ends to a stick, and there's more than one way of working. If it's for human beings - make sure and do it properly. If it's for the big man - just make it look good. (71)

Shukhov here references what is one of the main "laws" that prisoners follow. They may have limited power, but they obviously resist the guards when and where they can.

Quote #3

You had to be wide awake all the time. Make sure a warder never saw you on your own, only as one of a crowd. He might be looking for somebody to do a job, or he might just want to take his spite out on you. (94)

This idea of being "wide awake" really sums up the experience of being in the camps. As we see throughout the day, Shukhov has to be constantly alert and thinking in order to navigate the rules of camp life. It gets exhausting.

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