Return The Sun: One Day

One Day

Some thoughts on One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

To give you some background on this book, it was written in 1962, and
describes a single day in the life of a Russian prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov.
Shukhov is innocent of any crime, yet they pin a 25 year sentence on him, accusing
him of being a spy.

The biggest thing I got from this book was a stronger sense of empathy, especially
for those who suffer much more than I do. The author uses such vivid detail that
you get drawn in and feel as if you are a part of the story.
I honestly felt like a hypocrite sometimes because I would be reading this book on
my lunch break, eating a delicious sandwich and reading about a man who got a crust
of bread and two watery bowls of gruel each day as his food. Also, some days I
would sit outside in the sunshine reading about a gang of men working in below-
freezing temperatures, with frost-bitten toes and fingers.The narrator of the book
asks "Can a man who's warm understand one who is freezing?" and honestly, no, I
can't. Even though I might try to mentally imagine myself in Shukhov's position,
to experience it in real life is quite a different thing.

I seriously have no room to complain. While reading this book, I became much more
aware of how incredibly blessed my life is. Compared to the life of a Soviet prisoner,
my life is paradise. These men literally fight over who gets to lick out the bowls
after their supper and beg their superiors for one last drag of their cigarettes.
Not to mention working almost every single day in the torturously frigid weather of
Russia. And here I am, complaining that I don't have enough time to finish my
school projects or that it rains every day. Pathetic.

Also interesting was the character named Alyosha the Baptist. Although the majority
of the men in the camp were not religious, they all had a sort of reverence for
Alyosha. Shukhov says of him that "Anybody who felt like it could order Alyoshka
around, he was so meek and mild". And while it might seem like that's an insult,
Shukhov goes on to say "A meek fellow like that is a treasure to his gang".
That is, although the other men might order him around or tease him, everyone
treasured his presence.
It goes to show that a believer must be a light to others around him always,
even in prison.

We would all benefit from a greater dose of empathy. It honestly helps to appreciate and enjoy
your life much more. I would recommend that you all read this book, especially the Russian
kids so you can get a sense of what people in our country had to go through in
those times. Stories like this can give you a whole new perspective on life.
There are a lot of other things that I could write about this book, but I won't.
I'll just let you read it and discover them yourself.
I'm sure you won't regret it.


Andrey K. said...

This book sounds like a good read do you know where we might get it?

Marianna Germanova said...

this book is amazing!! i actually bought it at powel's last year without really knowing what it was about, and i absolutely fell in love with it!
If you read the author's story, he payed a huge price for writing such an excellent literary work.

olga.mklnko said...

hmm this kinda makes me want to read :)

Marianna Germanova said...

olga i can let you borrow the book, but i hope you dont mind that it is in russian:)

Blossoming Branches said...

I ought to be reprimanded every time I complain. It's absurd to be discontent, we are too blessed.

olga.mklnko said...

hah thanks marianna.. maybe one day :)

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