Thursday, August 21, 2014

Risk Taking Researcher – Daniel Choe

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Author: Alexander Solzhenitsyn

#6 – Risk Taking Researcher

After reading the first pages of the book, I started to wonder where exactly Ivan was in the story. The reason I thought about this is because even if the book gives us a biography about the author and some context of the book, they don't state where Ivan is living exactly. Obviously, he is in Russia, but I wanted to see where he was located in Russia. After doing some research, I discovered something interesting. According to Robert Hauhart, Ivan is actually in one of Stalin's "special camps." This is because the author, Solzhenitsyn, actually passed through this experience, since he was accused and sent to a special camp (jail) for eight years. His experiences in jail were completely similar to the ones that happened to Ivan. An example was when Solzhenitsyn was called guilty and had to confess so that no worse consequences would happen. The reason why this is an example is because Ivan was also called guilty and he also had to confess. In my opinion, I think that the way Solzhenitsyn wrote this book was actually intelligent, since he can tell others his own experiences inside a "special camp". Furthermore, he can teach a lesson through a better way because he knows that he made a mistake, but he also knows a resolution.

Another thought I had while reading was, what did Stalin do to go to prison? The reason I thought of this question was that the biography in the starting of the book didn't clearly tell what Stalin did, so I decided to research. According to "Saturday Evening Post," they said that Stalin, which can also be called Joseph Stalin, enslaved millions of people. The Soviet dictator, Joseph, had a greater political power than others, meaning that he had colossal amounts of power, and that is why he could slave people. This makes me understand the book better because now I know that when Solzhenitsyn accused Stalin, it was a huge happening, since Joseph had a lot of power.

In the book, Ivan and the whole camp were suffering for low amounts of food because of the cold weather. Even if the weather was cold, the camp could still eat warm bread in the morning because there was still food left, and it could still be cooked. After reading and researching about this topic, I found yet another piece of valuable information. Once again, according to Robert's paper, he states that the words "warm," "bread," "cold," and "hungry," that appear in the story multiple times, is actually a metaphor. Adding on, he said these words actually represent what a prisoner really wants, which is food and warmth, but also represents a prisoner's nightmare, which are hunger and cold. In my opinion, I think it was a clever way to use symbolism in the book because it can enhance the reader's thinking. For example, instead of just thinking that people are suffering from shortage of food, the reader can see that the whole camp is suffering from a nightmare they are living, which is hunger.

Overall, I think Solzhenitsyn is actually teaching us in a somewhat different way, since he uses his own tragical experiences and even metaphors to enhance the meaning of his story.

Information from: 

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. "One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich." Saturday Evening Post 236.5 (1963): 35. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 21 Aug. 2014.

Hauhart, Robert. "Bread And Warmth In ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH." Explicator 68.3 (2010): 203. Advanced Placement Source. Web. 21 Aug. 2014.


  1. I found it very good the information you searched, and it shows that anybody could be put in these prisons, even those who have (or at least had) great amount of political power. Also these keywords you chose, show that it was a basic instinct of survival needed, so that these prisoners could last long, because if they had these things they long to, it makes them have a better time at the prison, and they take advantage of their materials and use it for multi purposes, not only once and they are done, they use their resources until they "evaporate."

  2. Daniel,

    Wow, what an excellent post! I really enjoyed reading through your awesome ideas.

    I must say that I agree with you in every aspect here. In the first section, you mentioned how the author tells his personal experiences to connect with Ivan's characters. I found this very interesting, and, also, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was actually the first man to denounce the existence of the gulags to the world, as he was imprisoned in one. Did you know that Stalin actually killed more people than Adolf Hitler? Actually, he killed 20 million people that were against his communist regime. At the time, it was a very forced dictatorship, and the gulags were maintained a secret for the public not to realize how restricted they were in Soviet Russia. The "traitors" of the country that didn't agree with Joseph Stalin were sent to these camps to be tortured and killed. Last but not least, I thought your last paragraph was the most interesting. All of that information requires certain amounts of research on the topic. Generally, I really liked how you spoke about how metaphorical the story is as well by repeating the opposite words. Overall, I really enjoyed reading your post, as it is very well written and helped me to push my thinking forward.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!

    Thiago Rossi

  3. I found your post very interesting, clarifying, and enlightening. I liked how even though you didn't have to and had enough information, you sought out different topics to talk about and explain. What I didn't really understand though, was the difference between "special" camps and normal camps, and the reasons people had to send people to "special" camps instead of normal ones. From what I read in Jorge's post, "special" camps are for politicians, but what amount of power do politicians have to have so that they are sent to jail? Is it that if the government feels threatened/think that a politician is a possible threat then they are sent to jail? Overall, I really liked the content and how you analyzed the information, especially towards the end of your post.