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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denosivich Symbolism

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Theme Essay

The novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich introduces many symbols through the character’s experiences and belongings in the camp. However Shukhov’s spoon that he carries around is the most significant symbol. It portrays many things about Shukhov as well as many of the grievances and hardships the prisoners endure in the novel. Shukhov’s spoon is his way of holding onto how he recognizes his individuality. It shows a spirit and a soul behind the faded numbers imprinted on his jacket. The spoon also represents the Soviet’s unjust Gulag system that stripped the prisoners of an identity and guiltlessly placed them into forced labor. A third representation the spoon makes is Shukhov’s way of surviving without the unrequited help of the guards. He decides to sustain himself through his own means keeping his dignity intact which symbolizes a lot of strife and internal conflict in the camp.

The Russian prison camps were harsh and treacherous. They imprisoned and killed thousands political and moral traitors. In the camps the prisoners lost their identity, becoming frozen shells of an innocent worker. Throughout the novel Shukhov is in awe of Alyoshk’s ability to keep to preserve his faith. Alyoshk’s undying faith life is unprecedented, yet it is how Shukhov can connect with him. Shukhov does this by protecting his spoon, which is an tangible object that Shukhov uses to prove his strength and hope just as Alyoshk does with his religion. When Shukhov is cleaning the floors and removes his boots the narrator makes special note of the care he takes with his spoon. “Though he’d made himself ready for the guardhouse in a hurry, he hadn’t forgotten his spoon” (Solzhenitsyn 11) This shows how Shukhov integrates himself into his spoon. He protects his spoon just like he would himself because he feels it holds a part of him. Shukhov made the spoon prior to his arrival at the camp, and used it as a way to always keep a part of him close, despite the inhumane conditions.

The spoon also symbolizes the rough unforgiving systems of the Russian camps. The Gulag system were hundreds of forced labor prison camps to enforce reform and progression of the USSR. Conditions were intolerable and these camps were responsible for countless deaths. “Prisoners received inadequate food rations and insufficient clothing, which made it extremely difficult to survive the bitterly cold winters and the long working hours” (Smith, Page Wise, inc) This system to improve the USSR was controversial because it was murdering

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