In the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the main character Ivan and the other prisoners in the camp are treated very badly. Ivan tries to make himself warm and to get enough food to keep himself alive. He does only what is necessary to please the guards and the commanders of the camp. Ivan uses his intelligence to make his life easier so he can save up more energy to face the work load. He and the members of the 104th group manage to survive because of Ivan’s personal attention to himself and his care about the others. More importantly, Ivan survives because his intelligence, his spirit, his deception and careful teamwork.

Ivan has to be smarter than the guards in the camp, so, he will not get into trouble and get treated even worse than he does. When Shukhov and Senka want to transport the hacksaw-blade that Ivan found back at the camp, Shukhov removes both mittens, one with the blade. He then unbuttons his coat and let the guards search him. They search him side and back and his pocket, and one guard also crushes the mitten that Ivan holds out which is the empty one. This was in the book as, He was about to pass him through when, for safety’s sake, he crushed the mitten that Shukhov held out to him – the empty one. (Solzhenitsyn, Pg. 107) The smart move that he does is to place the empty mitten on top and take the risk that the guard will only search the empty one. Shukhov was lucky. Another example of having to be smarter is after they find the wood panels, they want to carry them back to make the place where they work warmer. Shukhov knows that if they carry it flatways, it will be easily noticed by others, so, they hold it upright in between them and set off. If they are seen by the superintendent, for instance, it will look as if there are three of them walking together. In this way, they cheat the guards as well as the superintendent, because Ivan and the others have used their intelligence.

Ivan mush has a strong spirit to survive in the camp, he uses his spirit to make himself feel better in the camp, and so, he can live happier and longer. He always thinks about the future, which make an outcome for himself. Without an outcome a person may become very sad and do not want to do anything, so he actually make himself live longer. For example, “Freedom meant one thing to him – home” (Solzhenitsyn, Pg.140). He is still thinking of home which he thinks that he still have hope to get out of the camp. so he wants to save his own life and go home in order to have freedom. Also, in his mind, work is not for money, but for satisfaction. So, he does not think that work is boring and hard to do, he thinks that they are chagelles.

Ivan is careful about what he does in the camp, therefore he does what is appropriate to do in the camp. He does not take other person’s left overs to eat even when he is extremely hungry. This reduces the chances of getting disease so he may live longer. When Ivan is sick, he goes to the sick bay and he does not hang around very often there, unless he is feeling really ill. The man in charge of there will not think that he is just pretending. Also, Shukhov has made his own spoon to use, so he does not have to use hands to eat. This again can reduce the chances of Ivan getting diseases. Therefore, Ivan can survive because of what he does in the camp.

Ivan has to be deceptive in order not to be discovered by the guards and the prisoners. When he sees a bit of a hacksaw blade on the ground, he thinks that he has no immediate use for it, but he still keeps it and hides it in a cobbling knife and perhaps trades it for bread. Furthermore, a good towel can make a man’s work better, Ivan therefore have fools the person in charge of the tool-store and get the best trowel. He hides it so that he can work a lot easier with that good trowel. This was in the book as, “Shukhov had fuelled the man in the tool-store and pocketed the best-trowel; and now he kept it hidden in a different place every evening” (Solzhenitsyn, Pg.48). Also, after work, the team wants to get back to the mess hall faster than anyone else, and after they get there, they will look for the bowls that have the thickest food in it. In this way, they can have more food. Moreover, Ivan hides his food for later use. He hides his food under his mattress so that he can eat it when he is hungry at night. So, his deception makes his life a lot easier in the camp.

Ivan survives by strong teamwork, when he and the other zeks got a new project given by the camp authorities. The team leader separates the work assignment so that everyone does receive similar amount of jobs. They can work more comfortably if they have only one task to perform. However, when they are sent to build a wall at the power station, they decide to fix the stove to keep warm while they are mixing the mortar to build the wall. Therefore, they separate the works as follows: Shukhov is put to fixing the stove-pipe; Kilgas is to repair the mixing box with the two Estonians to help him, Senka has to chop long laths. Moreover, when building the wall, they have to have good work report. The captain of the team has to make up a very good work report, that sounds much works has been done very efficiently, so that his team can have extra food. For example, when they crowd the iron stove, the men hear the news the team-leader has been successful in fixing the work-report. In fact, they really have not done anything. They get good rations for five days. It is in the book as, “A cleverly fixed work-report meant good ration for five days” (Solzhenitsyn, Pg.72). Also, Ivan also help other members of the team on their work, when Gopchik brought some Aluminium wire to Shukhov and ask Shukhov to teach him how to make a spoon. Shukhov teaches him, so, both of them can have less chances of getting the disease. This is in the book as “it’s good for making spoons. Teach me how to cast them.” (Solzhenitsyn, Pg.53). By teamwork, they save up more energy and get works done easily.

Ivan survives his life in the prison camp because of his personal attention to things such as his food and his care about the others when he works as a team member. He is also smarter than the guards and the other prisoners so that he does not get into trouble easily. He is also deceptive in order to get better food and tools to work with. He also has strong spirit to face the harsh life because he know he will have freedom in two years. When Shukhov and the other prisoners are treated badly at the camp, Shukhov is able to do better to keep himself alive.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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