Sunday, September 14, 2014

Line Illuminator - Ji Won J

"This game was played every evening: before the job was over the workers would gather chips, sticks, and broken laths, and tie them together with bits of string or ragged tapes to carry back with them." (page 110)

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. 

[First image in site]

"'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. 


1 comment:

  1. Ji Won,
    I thought that your choice of quotes was really interesting, especially the second one. This is because you saw it in a different way than I did. When I thought of it, I saw this scene as a sign of the way that the prison is administered so as to make the prisoner's lives the most miserable possible. All of them are punished because one of them didn't show up for work. The guards don't take it in consideration at all. I also feel like it benefits the guards because if I recall, Shukhov mentioned that they don't even need to punish him themselves, the other zeks will do it for them. They become so mad that they will curse and mistreat him. You saw it as a way of showing the human instinct to think only of yourself, and a way to show that Shukhov is just an average prisoner. This could apply to this concept as well, the part about our "default setting". The strategy is to use the men's thinking of themselves to punish the prisoner who did something wrong. Do you agree? Or do you think that they are being unjust towards the late-comer? Do you think it is wrong of the other prisoner's to curse him?