Author: Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Pages: 3 - 22
Question #1: How does the author know so much about the subject? How does his writing seem so realistically accurate in this scenery?
Throughout the reading of this book, it is impossible not to notice how detailed and accurate the writing is. One of the things I am most liking about this book so far is how realistic it actually sounds and the mood inside the gulag where Ivan is. However, the question that is still in my mind is how the author could know so much of this. A possible answer to this is that he actually lived this period in time. At that time, after World War II ended, many books were released relating to the real life experiences of diverse people that took part in the actual war. Moreover, making some research on the author of the book, I learned that Alexander was actually a prisoner in a gulag, and the first one to denounce the existence of these camps. Therefore, most of the information inside the book must have surely come from his real life experiences, and thus explains why the book is so painstakingly realistic and accurately detailed.
Question #2: Why is Ivan a prisoner? What happened to him before going to jail? Was Ivan someone politically important?
In the times of the Soviet Union, a gulag - where Ivan currently is - was an army camp for prisoners that opposed the communist "philosophy" of the Soviet Dictator, Josef Stalin. In the book, the main character Ivan is condemned accidentally by treason to the government, as we can read in the back of the book. Accordingly, one of the biggest questions that I have until now is how was he sent there by accident. One of the only answers I could think of is only if he was mistaken for another person when he was sent in. Another valid possibility is the fake denounce of a civilian that said he was against the regime. Another question that still remains unanswered is Ivan's previous political position in the past, before becoming an intern. After Josef Stalin become the Soviet Dictator, all politicians that disagreed with his communist way of governing were sent to gulags, which leads me to believe that Ivan could have been an government official.
|Josef Stalin, ex-Soviet Dictator|
Question #3: Why are these army camps so strict? Why is there a punishment for so many things, and why is food so limited for the prisoners?
At the time, I think that everyone that was against the communist regime were treated like traitors and scum by the whole Soviet society, and didn't earn any respect from anyone and were forced to do heavy labors, as described in various parts of the book. As a result from this "treason" they were constantly tortured and treated like stray dogs by the officials. In my opinion, the gulags were so secret like this because the government didn't want the public to figure out the forced way of life they were restricted to. My own mother told me that when she went to the Soviet Union, in the market, there used to be an enormous line to receive the daily, limited food supplies such as bread and other basic things. The communist way of government says that everyone needs to be at the same social level, and have no physical properties, as everything pertains to the government. Like that, I can infer that the way the prisoners live is just about the same, as they are limited to the amount of food they can get. However, the only twist is that they could lose their food due to a mistake during their labor, as mentioned in the 5th paragraph of page 7 of the book. Overall, at the time must have been real harsh for these people in the camp, as everything inside a gulag had a severe consequence for mistakes.
|The line to the market in Soviet Russia|
Gulag Image Website
Josef Stalin Image Website
Soviet Russia Market Line Image Link