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Privileged prisoners in the labor camps.

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Introduction

Meline 15-02-03 Privileged prisoners in the labor camps. In the novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, we are shown the horrendous conditions in Stalin's labor camps through the protagonist's eyes. We share only 24 hours of Shukhov's life, as shown by the title of the novel, but the awful living conditions are well shown. The author creates a dramatic foil between the privileged and ordinary prisoner, also called zeks. In these camps we know that food is the money and that without it you cannot survive, it is a power! The contrast shows the corruption and injustice that this power brings; some zeks abuse the power that is given to them and misuse it by treating others badly, others make good use of it and help out the rest of their squad, finally, the rest of these privileged zeks take advantages of their power but would still share some of their "wealth" with the ordinary zeks. In this novel, there are many examples of abuse and corruption. The main one is the mess chief and the limper. The mess chief has the "money" of the camp; he is the most powerful prisoner in the camp. By the way Shukhov describes him, we realize how corrupted he is. "The mess chief was a fat swine, with a head like a pumpkin and a mighty pair of shoulders. ...read more.

Middle

"Der was wearing a regulation camp coat, but it was new and clean. His hat was stylish, made of leather" (72). In these quotes we clearly see the fact that Der was a previous important political figure and he still has privileges. Due to his position and attitude, he's not well seen from the other prisoners, yet the ordinary zeks cannot do much about it because of Der's sympathetic relations with the authorities. Another prisoner who's shown as taking advantages of his status is Shkuropatenko. He's not shown as taking directly advantages of his role. "The lanky Shkuropatenko, a mere cipher, a trusty who'd been given the temporary job of guarding the prefabs from any pilfering by the prisoners. Yes, it was Shkuropatenko who was most likely to spot them on the open ground" (41). This pictures Shkuropatenko as telling on others to make himself look more important to the guards and authorities of the camp. In this way he doesn't have to work hard but he is vicious but he abuses the power he has by telling off everyone he sees. He even continues watching the prefabs from inside an office. "Beyond him, like a bent pole, stooped Shkuropatenko - B219. That eyesore - staring out of the window, trying to see, even now, whether anyone was pinching some of his precious prefabs! You didn't spot us that time, you gawk" (59). ...read more.

Conclusion

(22). This shows that even though he doesn't share often, he's generous. He gives the fog-end to Shukhov without him asking for it directly. It means that he's kind deep down, even though he's using his privileges to get a better position.. Yet there is another side of him. He believes that he's higher than other zeks in the camp. When Shukhov brings him his lunch, he ignores him. "Tzesar swung round and held out his hand for the bowl, not even looking at Shukhov, as though the kasha had materialized out of thin air" (60). This shows how selfish he is, he doesn't care about other prisoners. He should be out in the cold like all the other zeks but due to his power, he sits all day long in warm office. Yet Shukhov feels pity for him as he knows that he's the kind of prisoners that can only survive as long as parcels as being sent to him This kind of prisoners can only survive as long as parcels as being sent to them In One Day in the Life Denisovich, the different kind of privileged prisoners either makes ordinary prisoner's lives worse or better. In the first case, the privileged prisoners are hated by all the zeks and could eventually get murdered. For the other kind, the rest of the squad respects them as they give men a second life. No matter what kind of privileges they have, they are all a big foil to all the ordinary prisoners and bring about a sense of injustice towards the ordinary prisoners. ...read more.

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