One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Moldavian is the unfortunate zek who fell asleep at the worksite, held up hundreds of people, got beat up for his tardiness, and then got tossed into the hole as punishment. He's had one bad day. But other than being pathetic, the Moldavian also shows us just how violent and dangerous the camps can be. The only reason he wasn't beaten further was because a guard intervened. And the Moldavian also kicked off a lot of thoughts in Shukhov about how precious time is to the prisoners, which is one of the book's major themes.