Saturday, February 7, 2015

Question Commander Week 1-Lucas T.

Lucas Taragano

Question Commander

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Alexandr Solzheinstein

Introduction, Foreword until page 33

1)Why is Ivan in the camp?
To begin with, Ivan Denisovich is a man that is imprisoned in a camp in the Soviet gulag. Until now, it isn't clear to the reader why this man is in this horrible prison. Clearly, due to it's location, the camp is very cold, and that makes it even worst for the prisoners to live in. In my opinion, a possible reason why Ivan is in a camp, and not just in a regular jail is that he commit ed a very bad crime. Murdering, assaulting, abusing, and so on. In addition, at the time this book takes place, around the 1950's, it is only five years after the World War Two. Possibly, Ivan committed a crime in the war, but maybe there were many people that needed to go to jail, so the government just decided to dump them all in a freezing camp. Concluding, it is still unknown the true reason why Ivan Denisovich is locked up in this camp, and this information will probably be told deeper into the book.

2)Why was this book banned?
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a book that right after it's initial release, was banned in it's author's home country, Russia. This book was banned from Russia for two main reasons. First, it was the first book ever published there that explained how the gulags were one of the government's forms of going against its own people. Plus, this book also offends in some points an old leader from what was known as the Soviet Union. This leader was Joseph Stalin, who was basically a dictator in a communist-type of government. This showed the other side of the equation. It expressed what the prisoners felt, therefore the Russian government decided to ban it.

3)How could his life have changed since he went into the camp?
Obviously, Ivan's life probably changed very much since he went to prison. Yet, it is not what it seems to be. To begin with, assuming that Ivan lived through World Ward Two and soon after it went to the gulag camp, his life, possibly, could have gotten better. Starting of, the war was a terrible time to be living in, especially in Europe. Almost one hundred percent of the countries were involved, including the Soviet Union, and everything that could be heard was gunshots in the air. Most likely, food and safe shelter were difficult to find. On the other hand, in the camp, there is food and there is a place to sleep for the prisoners. Yet, in the prison there is no freedom. Because of this, both sides seem to balance themselves out. All in all, it is clear that Ivan's Life changed after he went to the camp, both in positive and negative ways.


  1. Lucas, great questions!
    I agree with you on your second question. This book was basically kind of giving Russia's secret. No one knew what the gulag was like. Alexander Solzhenitsyn raised awareness of the gulags. Of course that Russia and the Solviet Union would be mad at them.

  2. Lucas,
    The Gulag stand for Main Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and was a government agency that controlled forced labor camps in the USSR during Stalin's rule. The concentration camps were first created in 1917 after the Russian Revolution, but the system expanded to massive sizes over the course of Stalin's rule over the nation. Although Gulag camps were present in every part of the USSR, the harshest and most inhumane ones were located around the arctic circle, in the coldest part of Russia. In respect to your first question, I believe Ivan was sent to this camp for the same reason that the book's author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was imprisoned for. He was charged with writing derogatory statements in private letters to friends that were intercepted by the NKVD. I agree with you in the sense that the cause for his imprisonment will be revealed later on. During my research, however, I was shocked at the brutal and inhumane conditions that the "prisoners" were kept in. Untold millions died from the unsanitary conditions, spreading of diseases, of starvation and from manual labor.

  3. Lucas,

    Many of your questions are similar to the ones I had in mind. I chose to answer question 2, why was this book banned?

    To begin with, all of the books for our rotation this year in Humanities contain bits of history or some just challenged ideas. For example, in a book we read, Maus, it explains a little bit about the Holocaust and the author modifies it into his own point of view. These types of books are challenged by the world because of how controversial they can be. For instance, people in Germany might feel offended, or others around the world think that these books should not be exposed to children and teens. However, I think that books like these should totally be allowed because they explain how society was like in the past. In this case, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich explains a little bit about camps created back then during Soviet Russia and how they were like.

  4. After reading your post I realized that in you third question you mention a lot about Ivan. The book is narrated by an anonymous person that is talking in the third person so when you said Ivan's life changed both negatively and positively it is impossible to know unless if its said somewhere later on in the book. He might not be in a Gulag because of the war but because of something else. We do know that the actual author of the book went to a Gulag for writing private letters with anti soviet propaganda which was against the rules. Whom ever Ivan is his life definitely changed in some way we just don't know yet.