Saturday, August 30, 2014

Connection Captain- Bianca A.

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Part #2- Pg. 22- 68
Connection Captain

Overall, I believe that this part of the book was our first view of what it was truly like to live in a Gulag during the Soviet Regime.
My first connection to the text came in one specific line in the beginning of section. On page 28, one of the men from Ivan Denisovich's squad is missing, he is said to be ill; however, all of the prisoners know that it did not work like that. The man had been taken by security because he had done something wrong, and no one would ever know about it. This brought me to the whole concept of enforced disappearances. I decided to dig deeper into the concept, because it was something that thoroughly interested me. These forced disappearances are a crime according to the United Nations, but they have been occurring for a long period in history. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were great examples, however even today hundreds of people simply disappear. They simply seize to exist. Although the event in the story is different because it is not in the same circumstance, it is still a situation in which the government took a person and did not tell anyone about it. Nowadays, in Syria, this was extremely common. Countless victims are held at secret detention facilities where they are tortured and killed for not conforming to the government. Again, I do not doubt that some of the men in the book were arrested under similar circumstances. It connects to current events because, according to Amnesty International, these cases in Syria are a form of covering up the problem and issues in the country from the outside world, which is one of the reasons this book was banned. It is a censorship of sorts. Government hiding things from the people is not strange even to us in Brazil. I read an article a few days ago that speaks of a new site coming out for the upcoming Brazilian election period that tells the people which candidates are use more censorship in the media. Or, who hides more from the people. This is something that can be connected to many problems in the world today, and many societies. There are also cases of people, such as the book's author, that are exiled from their own country. This is a form of hiding things from the people and this book shows various examples of that. Especially related to the reasons why these men were arrested.  

A poster for Amnesty International's conference on October 2010, which spoke of these enforced disappearances and of ways to solve this ongoing problem. There is currently even a international day of victims of this humanitarian crime in order to raise awareness.  

My second connection is regarding the way that people are forced to act in this society. In this part of the book, we learn a bit more about the lives of people before and outside the camp. Finally answering our questions on the issues of what got them into these situations. One thing that struck me were the people that were in for Article 58, political crimes. This is what got them transferred from general camps into these "special" ones. One of Ivan's prison mates, for example, was arrested because he was caught smuggling milk to a Soviet general who had betrayed the country. I also noticed that the regime is extremely strong and enforced, the people do not get many choices to choose what they do and who they are. They are part of the communist Soviet Union, there is no choice. This reminded me of a comparison used a lot on political cartoons and statements, the concept of the "sheeple".  Or, a group of sheep. They are forced to conform to what the pastor tells them, and they never get away. The people do exactly as they are told, manipulated by the government. Exactly like sheep. These animals do not question what they are told, which I think is also a connection to the text. In page 63-64, the men argue about whether it is noon or one, based on the position of the sun. However, even in that simple debate, there is mention of Soviet power and the decrees.This makes Ivan think, "Mean to say that the sun up in the sky must bow down to decrees, too?", this is a clear example of the forced way of thinking. Ivan even goes as far as to question this comment, he does not express it, though. He keeps this "defiant" thought to himself. It does make me think about the whole concept of freedom x equality. This is a, theoretically, communist society, where the people are completely conforming to the government regime. They do not have the power to choose anything, but they have the same rights. Or so they are told. These so-called regime is treating men to living in inhumane conditions, yet they are all the same. Are we "sheeple"? Do we let ourselves be influenced by the government when making our own decisions? It truly makes me think. These men are not exposed to the same sources of information that we have today. However, it is so easy to censor this sort of information and for the government to control our minds and what we are exposed to. Are we being manipulated in a less violent way? 

"Sheeple" are the source of various political cartoons in today's society, especially directed to the government of the United States. However, they can be connected to places such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and even Brazil. 

Smith, Lydia. "Enforced Disappearances: Why Are Hundreds of People Vanishing Without a Trace?" Yahoo News UK. Yahoo News Network, 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Aug. 2014. <>.
"World Day to End the Death Penalty: October 10th 2010." Amnesty International York. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2014. <>.

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