Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

WL P2: Ivan Denisovich

Recommended Posts

Heey, so I am writing my WL2 and have chosen to do a formal essay on how Ivan Denisovich is depicted as an antihero in Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (leeegit worst book I have ever read...)

I have included his general weak disposition, lack of dignity, lack of dreams/hope and his survivalist (or selfish depends on your opinion) way of life.

Any tips on other attributes he has (with an example preferably eg. scene or quote) or how i can develop the ones I have? Feels like it is a little narrown :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I quite enjoy this book, though I would disagree with your comments about Shukov. Just a few comments for you to think about your points?

General weak disposition: Is he actually portrayed as weak, from the book (perhaps some evidence cause one can argue that by being told his journey from his first camp (Ust-izhma) to his current one, he's lasted 6+ years in the gulag.) And from the way he works compared to others, you get the feeling that he is one of the hardest workers in the group?

Lack of dignity- If he didn't have any dignity left, why does he not savage like Fetiukov, but rather formulates a plan to get Caesar to get part of his parcels.

Lack of dream/hope- Why does he, at the end mention the days he would stay in the camp, perhaps its his reflection of his hope that he will get out? and that he's 'almost happy' and going to sleep 'content'?

Survivalist: If he was selfish, why would he share a biscuit with Alyosha, knowing that he wont get anything back from it?

the comments are just some food for thought, from those, It would be easier to find more supporting evidence from it (that's what I did for my WL2)

Perhaps you can mention his ability to adapt? -from making his spoon out of stolen wire to his cunning to get extra bowls of soup? (it would be easier for us to help you if we knew what your question/where you want to go/do for your WL)

Hope it helps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't get me wrong I see your points, about how he is a hero, I mean he is the protagonist and he is a moral leader. However, in my opinion he doesn't possess classic heroic attributes and therefore he could be classified as an antihero. My question, as it is right now, is "What qualities make Shukhov an antihero in Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich?"

I added in the idea of freedom and how questions it towards the end of the novel, for if he had been depicted as a classic hero then he would have fought for his freedom every single day and he would long to see his family and have hope that he will seen them soon. And in terms of hope, he shows a negative opinion to if he will even be released from the Gulag in 2 years when his sentence is over and through this I feel that he is a pessimist and has failed to see the "light at the end of tunnel" so to speak.

I also take into consideration that the fact that Solzhenitsyn has created a character like this is veeeery uncommon in 19th century Russian literature as most characters were heroic and strong in a sense, whilst Shukhov isn't really like that. There is nothing "extraordinary" about him that we usually see in protagonists, he is an average peasant and that is even emphasises through Solzhenitsyn's choice of name (Ivan being a common name in Russia).

This is my basic reasoning, I handed in a draft (worst essay I have written so far without a doubt) and now I am waiting in fear of having to re-write the whole thing, but if there are any ideas on how I can elaborate any of my ideas feel free to share or if there are still any unclarities comment away :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi!!

I did this book as one of my texts for world lit one, and I gotta say I don't think he is an antihero at all. In class we spent time discussing how Solzhenitsyn is trying to instil a sense of admiration for Shukhov in the reader, as he is getting on with his new life without complaint - in fact, being an incredibly good worker and working as hard as he can within the camp. The fact he is a peasant, with a common name, is meant to exaggerate the fact that he is more of a hero.

I'm not sure there's much to show he's an antihero... he definitely isn't weak - he works through illness, and finds ways to push himself through imprisonment. He has dignity, just by working as hard as he can and by carrying on! This is all rewarded in the end, when he gets sausage, tobacco etc. :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooh I forgot to say - he hasn't lost hope by not looking towards the end of his sentence in 2 years. This is because in Stalin's Russia prisoners weren't released - their sentences were constantly extended so that they would never be released. By cutting off contact with his family, Shukhov is saving both himself and them from the constant suffering felt through remembering each other and never being able to see each other again - easier to make a clean break than to constantly feel pain through long-distance contact. Which is really kinda brave, he's made this sacrifice to ensure his family don't feel that pain! :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.