Page 134- 167
"Now he didn't know whether he wanted freedom or not. (...) And then it became clear that men like him wouldn't ever be allowed to return home, that they'd be exiled. (..) Freedom meant one thing to him- home. But they wouldn't let him go home. " (pg. 163-164)
I picked this quote because I believe it represents a lot about the situation that the author is setting of the life of a prisoner at the camp. Throughout the book, Shukhov was not very vocal about his feelings towards his situation. His hopes, his fears, what his dreams were. He made it clear that his main goal was to make his day the least unbearable he could. Here, we finally get the feeling of why he acts this way. He has no light at the end of the tunnel, the situation that he will head into as a free man is not better than the one he is now. He knows that he will never be home again, that his life will never be back to normal. He will be exiled. In some ways, a man is never truly free. This system makes it so that there is no end to the zek's suffering. Alexander Solzhenitsyn knows what this feels like, as he had to go through much the same situation. He is letting the people know the cold hard truth behind these fake information of "freedom". He is showing people what actually goes on inside these prison walls, and how the men feel. They are in a tunnel, dark and hopeless, chained to a future that is much worse than the one that they have now. During the Brazilian military dictatorship, people who defied the system were taken hostage, tortured and killed. Some were also exiled. This situation of never being free to go home again is applicable to many countries and places.
|Group of political prisoners at a forced labour camp|
This is on the last page of the novel. The last bit of thinking that comes to Shukhov's mind as he goes to sleep. I picked this line due to a few reasons. Firstly, it catches my attention because of what comes before it, Shukhov thinking of that day as a good one, much better than some. To me, it had stood out how harsh the conditions were, how different they are to situations nowadays. They do not compare to life for me, as I have luxuries unimaginable to those Gulag prisoners, however I am not in prison. It is tougher to the ones for people in today's world, though. And this was not even one of the worst days. So many things could have happened that would make Ivan's life more miserable. This leads on to my second point. I believe that Alexander Solzhenitsyn's sole ambition when writing this book was to show people what it was like to live in a Gulag. How tough the days were and the conditions in which they lived. At first, I was expecting a story, with a beginning, middle and end, however as the book progressed, I realized that that was not the purpose. It is much like a report, written to expose things that were hidden. Through Ivan Denisovich, Solzhenitsyn puts people into the mind of a average Gulag prisoner. In this passage, we can see the emphasis on the three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days. For us, our journey inside the "special" camp is over, yet this is only one day for these men. One day in a sentence of many. He is emphasizing the concept of this being their routine, simply a average day for a average prisoner, nothing special. He wants to make sure we understand what he was trying to show us.
|A brazilian prison yard.|