One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
pages 134-178 + afterword
Historical Context Question
The author's cultural and educational background influences the book in many ways. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is actually one day in the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the labour camps, the gulags. It can be considered an autobiography since the writer writes about his experience in the gulag. The only different thing is that he creates a character to represent him and the book is written in third person. During WWII, Solzhenitsyn served as the commander of a sound-ranging battery in the Red Army. In February 1945, while serving in East Prussia, Solzhenitsyn was arrested for writing derogatory comments in private letters to a friend, Nikolai Vitkevich. He was accused of anti-Soviet propaganda and of "founding a hostile organization." Solzhenitsyn was taken to the Lubyanka prison in Moscow, and was sentenced to an eight-year term in a labour camp. In 1950, he was sent to a "Special Camp" for political prisoners. During his imprisonment at the special camp, he worked as a miner, bricklayer, and foundry foreman (Wikipedia). His background influences the novel because the novel was based on his life. He wrote the book according to his experience in the gulags. His experience in the special camp was what formed the basis to the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. At the end of novel, we can see that the author was thankful that he was in prison rather than some place even worse or dead. On page 163-164 it says, "Alyosha was speaking the truth. His eyes left no doubt that he was happy in prison" (Solzhenitsyn 163-164). That shows the author's view because he believes that he should be thankful rather than hating the fact that he is in prison. He is thankful that he only has to stay 8 years in prison than 25 years. He is thankful that he was able to survive one more day.