"One Day in the Life of Ivan" -- Alyoshka

Essay by vintagerose07High School, 10th grade April 2006

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"What d'you want your freedom for? What faith you have left will be choked in thorns. Rejoice that you are in prison. Here you can think of your soul." (198) Amongst the characters in the novel "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", Alyoshka has the most enduring faith. The author, Solzhenitsyn, portrays the Baptist as a dedicated and extraordinarily persevering character. In a novel about a Russian forced labor camp, Alyoshka represents the strength of the human spirit conquering the hardships by focusing on the health of the soul rather than secular issues. Alyoshka has a few traits that make him seem above the effects of camp life, they include, overwhelming inner peace, trustworthiness, and faith.

Alyoshka reads from his notebook, in which he has copied the New Testament serves as his guide through the camp. By focusing on this reading, he escapes from the bitterness that overtakes the long time prisoners such as Fetyukov.

Forced by the prison camp to give up physical pleasures, Alyoshka relies instead on spiritual fulfillment. Shukhov, taking note of this spirituality, realizes at the end of the novel that Alyoshka actually enjoys his life in the prison camp.

Shukhov knows that the Estonians and Alyoshka have seen him sow his bread into his mattress, he is not worried that they will report him. The survival that Solzhenitsyn describes in this novel is strongly dependant on the fact that solidarity with fellow men can persist even in subhuman conditions. The camps authority encourages the prisoners to spy on each other but even so Alyoshka keeps Shukhov's secret.

Bread is a symbol of physical and spiritual rations made by the authority in the novel. Although the physical sustenance that bread gives the prisoners is more important to most...