Monday, September 8, 2014

Line Illuminator- Gaetano C (Rotation 3)

Book: A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Author: Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Job: Line Illuminator
Pages: 69-105
     Passage #1- "Next, he removed his cap from his shaven head - however cold it            was, he wouldn't let himself eat with his cap on." (85)
This passage is an example of Ivans struggle for dignity in this degrading camp. Removing his cap is Ivans' way of displaying that even in this harsh camp, he is still civilized. Even though, it causes him discomfort, Ivan still removes his cap as he feels that civilized people should do this. This passage shows us that the debasing camp still has not been entirely successful in removing the prisoners' humanity.

Ivan Denisovich eating without a cap
Shukhov with his cap

Passage #2- "You had to be wide awake all the time. Make sure a Warder never saw you on your own, only as one of a crowd. He might be looking for somebody to do a job, or he might just want to take his spite out on you." (94)

This quote is important to the book because it's the first time that the author presents one of the (presumably) main antagonists of the novel. It is also very interesting because it shows us just how scared Ivan is of the guard. It also implies that the guards are so improper that they might beat up a prisoner just because. This kind of makes you think about the fear Ivan has to deal with on a daily basis, and the erratic people in his day-to-day life.

A Warder (guard)


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  2. Hey Gaetano, as I read your blog, there was no other better way to answer those quotes or parts of the book. I have seen people take off their hat while eating due to manners, but why do you think he would do that in such a cold place? Yes, yes, I know he is trying to be civilized, but would you risk getting sick just for manners in a prison?

    As to your second question, do you think the prisoners deserve to be in those camps, and as you said get beaten up? I definitely agree with Ivan being scared of the warden, I mean, who wouldn't he beats prisoners for no reason.

  3. Gaetano,
    I really appreciate you pointing out the humanity of the prisoners, because I believe that is something that the book uses as one of it's main themes. Living in a Gulag should and most likely would take one person's morals and ethics fast. These men are given so little to eat, yet they are expected not to take anyone else's meals, expecting absolutely nothing in return. They are beaten and tortured physically, and this must affect them in a mental way. However, throughout the book, I see that the men maintain their humanity through different things. Removing the hat during the meal is one of them. It is cold, and no one will truly notice if you kept your hat on, however, Shukhov does so, simply because it is something that makes him who he is. This sort of connects to our conversation on values during Humanities class, and how our beliefs shape who we are. Living in a society where the people are so deprived of their rights of self-expression and other things, I believe that the men must find ways to maintain humane and maintain their personalities. They do so by these simple rituals and procedures that connect to their lives prior to being sent to the labour camps.
    As for your other point, I believe that this is a society that theoretically should be equal. This regime captures farmers simply because they have more land than others, yet we see the way that this camp works. Firstly, they are convicted of unjustified crimes regarding their government, and must work in conditions considered inhumane by anyone with a sane mind. Yet it does not end with the unfairness outside of the camps. Once they get in, everything is worse. Shukhov is threatened simply because he called in sick at a late time in the day. This is a reflection to the regime and society they live in. The food rationing inside and outside is close to the bare minimum and does not work the way that is expected. One of the ways that Stalin maintained power was through this regime, and not letting this aspects of the Gulag be exposed is one point to it. I can imagine how this book must have affected the USSR at that point in time. When information like this one was shared with the people, things must have changed drastically. I wonder what other injustices occurred in the prison camps? What other reasons could the men have to be sent there? Who picked the people in power and how?
    Overall, I think that you picked to great lines for discussion, which resulted in a thorough post. Are those images from a movie based on this book?

  4. Hey Gaetano,

    Great job. I liked how you answered those quotes because like Nico said earlier that you answered it in your own opinion. But would you do the same thing as Ivan. If so how? And why?

    My last question is How would you deal with the pain that Ivan feels every day of his life while in the camp? Over all this was a great post and good job.