Solzhenitsyn — It was a Good Day

Does anything¬†really¬† go wrong for Shukhov in “One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich”?Nah — to use the words of rapper Ice Cube — “it was a good day.”

So, how does Solhenitsyn convey the trials of camp life? Despite Shukhov’s experience at maneuvering camp politics and his relatively optimistic outlook, the audience can still see the hardships through how Shukhov notes his surroundings. The way he comments on the other ” zeks’ ” behavior, on how it will affect their lives in the camp, depict many of the lessons he has had to learn in the camps. Many instances of punishment or distress we read in this novel are portrayed through Shukhov’s experienced view. Ultimately, he does serve his sentence. But, Shukhov does this after being worn down by camp life and having to rebuild himself on experience. He knows who to avoid, and why; who to trust, and why; the politics of the camp, and how to maneuver; and the consequences the newer zeks face in the 104th due to their inexperience.

I’ve included a censored version of Ice Cube’s song below to illustrate the similar methods employed to depict hardship.

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One thought on “Solzhenitsyn — It was a Good Day

  1. I think the technique of “everything was good” made Denisovich seem like a more sympathetic figure. It also stressed that he’d presumably been through so much worse, that a day in a gulag which would seem horrible to all of us seemed relatively good to him.

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