This is another quote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn tells us in the book that shows the importance of survival in the gulag prisons. It also shows how brutal the administration of the prisons were. First of all, the prisoners wouldn't have to pick up precious pieces of wood to keep their fire going if the authorities kept the prisons warmer. The prisoners wouldn't be picking up bits of sticks, chips, and broken laths if warmth was already given to them and the act of survival was not needed. Second of all, the author says that this game is played every evening. The fact that he calls it a game shows the aspect of competition in the prisons. You would try to finish your job quickly so you can be the first to collect the wood pieces. It would be harder to find pieces of sticks if the other prisoners already passed the area. He also says that the game is played every evening so this shows the act of perseverance everyday.
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"'Boooo!' went the crowd at the gates. And they yelled, as the group drew nearer: 'B*stard, Sh*t! Idiot! Cow's twat! Lousy son-of-a-b*tch!' And Shukhov joined in: 'Rat!' It's no joke to rob five hundred men of over half an hour."
This passage shows the cruelty is not acted just by the guards and escorts but also by the prisoners as well. The act of brutality towards the Moldavian reminds us that prejudice occur from the inmates just like the administrators. This is the first time the author tells us about prisoners acting brutal towards their fellow prisoners. The other act of cruelty were done by the guards and officers. The author's purpose in this passage is not to scold Shukhov for hypocrisy but to show us Shukhov's human flaw. It tells us that Shukhov isn't unique but actually an average person with limitations.