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A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and House of the Spirits. Both Denisovich and Allende illustrate humans inconceivable ability to prevail, even over a society that aims to oppress them.

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Introduction

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds" (Samuel Adams). It takes not a majority, nor a minority, to change something. It takes only a leader, a visionary, with the determination to cause a revolution. Both Denisovich and Allende encourage this perspective of humankind and reveal this through their writings in "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" and "House of the Spirits". They create characters that not only recognize the injustices, but also have a deeper understanding of them. This allows these characters to rise above the bondage of oppression and overcome fear, indecisiveness, and passivity. Both Denisovich and Allende illustrate human's inconceivable ability to prevail, even over a society that aims to oppress them. Allende's characterization of Pedro allows him to overcome his oppression through his music and love for Blanca. Allende characterizes Pedro in such a way that he seems invincible, able to overcome Estaban's tyrannical ways. Esteban could not understand how his authority could be objected, he even, "tried to prevent him from continuing his schooling...but the boy simply rose earlier and went to sleep later to finish his work" (Allende 155). Here, one can see that Allende shows Pedro's determination, his perpetual fight against his oppressors. ...read more.

Middle

Allende writes, "Clara lived in a universe of her own invention, protected from life's inclement weather, where the prosaic truth of material objects mingled with the tumultuous reality of dreams and the laws of physics and logic did not apply" (82). This contrasts to Esteban's world, where, everything is ruled by reason. His inability to connect with other characters on this abstract level isolates him allowing the characters to escape his grasp. When Blanca states that he "can't keep the world from changing" (170) he bursts into an outrage and knocks the tureen out of her hands. She responds not by arguing but by simply leaving the room Esteban has no choice but to let her leave. Esteban starts to realize his hopeless situation and his powerlessness. Esteban states, "and even if I held her down with my hands and embraced her with all my strength, I could never make her mine" (177). This feeling of helplessness frustrates Esteban. He has yet to be in a position where he is incapable of controlling others in his environment. As Clara and Esteban grow apart, he starts to feel more vulnerable. Allende writes, "one day Clara had a bolt installed on her bedroom door and after that she never let me in her bed again" (179). ...read more.

Conclusion

Although work may have given them purpose, nothing could inspire them more than food. Solzhenitsyn's accentuation of food reveals humans incogitable aptitude to find hope and triumph. Food also gave Ivan Denisovich Shukhov hope. Time in the camp was not measured by days, hours, or minutes but by meals. To Shukhov the time between meals could seem an eternity if there was nothing else to occupy his mind. Solzhenitsyn writes "He had to give all his time to eating. He had to scrape the stuff out from the bottom, put it carefully in his mouth, and roll it around with his tongue" (63). Shukhov would do favors for others with the small chance of getting a food reward. And even in a place where food outweighed all, Shukhov kept a sense of humanity in the barbaric prison. Shukhov always, " pulled his spoon out (13) to eat. He fought to keep his dignity and not let the system control him. Solzhenitsyn writes, "Then he removed his hat... he could never bring himself to eat with his hat on" (14). Shukhov continues to fight against the oppression not only by keeping his dignity, but also by resisting the prisons tendency to change a man while in the prison. Solzhenitsyn insinuates that Ivan will not leave the prison camp, but he will not give in. And he will survive because of his strength of will and his refusal to compromise his human dignity. ...read more.

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