Author: Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Pages: 23 – 68
Job #4 – Question Commander
Question 1: Why aren't the prisoners able to choose what they are going to do in the future?
After reading some pages of the book, I came across one of Ivan's thoughts that I found interesting. On page 41, Ivan narrates that he lost the habit of planning for his future, since the authorities chose everything for him. Now, this section of the book guided me on thinking of a question because of the fact of choosing. Everyone has to choose with their own thoughts so that they can achieve something they really want. For example, if someone is starving, he will probably choose to eat something, because he is hungry. Now, if someone chose for him, and made him not eat anything, then he would be revolted because he didn't have the choice to do something he wanted, which in this case was to fulfill his hunger. Coming back to the story, if the prisoners can't choose, it will mean that they will get angry at anything the authorities choose for them since it might be something they didn't want to do. Furthermore, if the prisoners can't choose, it will mean that they can never get out of the prison because they will never learn from their mistakes. The authorities are forcing them to learn, meaning that it will create more angriness inside the prisoners. If the prisoners could choose what to do, and were guided (not forced) to the right direction, there might be a chance that the prisoners would change since they could reflect on what they did wrong by themselves, instead of being forced to reflect on their mistakes.
Question 2: Why doesn't the prisoners give suggestions or ideas to the authorities?
At first, this question might not make sense, but it has a meaning behind it if you understand it. When Ivan was taking the blocks to complete his job, he thought taking the mortar would be useless, since it could freeze by the cold weather, but, he didn't share this idea with anyone else. I thought this part of the story was interesting because Ivan didn't tell his idea that taking the mortar would be pointless to the authorities or any of the prisoners. If Ivan told the authorities his concern, they could take his idea in consideration and help him make the mortar not to freeze. This would help the prisoners significantly, since they wouldn't need to unfreeze the mortar, meaning that they would waste less time doing their job. Because Ivan didn't tell anyone about it, I can easily predict that the prisoners will have to unfreeze the mortar since it probably will freeze in the cold weather. Again I ask, why do the prisoners keep ideas to themselves, instead of giving them to the authorities?
Question 3: Is Ivan a spy? What is his mission?
To start with this question, on page 65, the prisoners talk about Ivan Denisovich Shukov, and when he was sentenced by high treason. They also said that Ivan had surrendered to the Germans, just so that he could betray his own country. Continuing, the prisoners also said that Ivan is carrying out a mission for the Germans. After this happenings, I ask, Is Ivan a spy? The reason I say this is because Ivan surrendered to the Germans to betray his country, meaning that he wanted to do something bad to Russia before he went to the Gulag. Also, spies normally carry some sort of mission to complete, and in the book, Shukov is carrying out a mission for the Germans. Can Ivan have received a mission to do something in Russia after he surrendered? If so, what is his mission? The reason I say this other question is because the book doesn't state anything horrible Ivan did to his country. Because this information still remains unclear, it isn't easy to say what mission Ivan has. In my opinion, the only suspicious thing Ivan can be doing is to learn what prisoners build in the Gulag. My justification is because Ivan can tell the Germans everything about the Gulag, making the Germans have an advantage over the Russians if they ever come to war.
Overall, there were loads of questions to be asked, but these were what called most attention to me.