The Corrupt gulag system in Soviet Russia
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, contains a deep meaning of life, but it is also a novel that Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a gulag victim, used to reveal the horrors found within the walls of a prison camp. Prison camps, during the time of Stalin, were a cheap labor workforce monitored by fear and corruption. Alexander Solzhenitsyn portrays the corruption of the Soviet nation and the gulag, simultaneously, by using first hand experiences in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
Through his use of explicit details, Solzhenitsyn exposed the corrupt laws of the bureaucracy. Solzhenitsyn grew up in Kislovodsk, Russia, and was later enlisted in the Red army under Joseph Stalin. He was later arrested in 1945 for letters he had written, containing information that denounced Stalin. The deed was done once he was accused of betraying the Soviet Union. With his humanist ideals, Solzhenitsyn risked his life to make the world a better place. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov (Shukhov) in Solzhenitsyn's novel was captured by the German army and "sentenced for high treason. He had testified to it himself" (55). The personal experience of Solzhenitsyn was reflected onto the fictional character Shukhov, "Yes, he'd surrendered to the Germans with the intention of betraying his country" (55). The logistics of the situation and the other possible factors that contributed towards Shukov "betraying" the mother country were unheard; the corrupt Russian power had one belief set in stone and if that belief went against the truth, there was no getting around it. "Shukhov had figured it all out. If he didn't sign he'd be shot. If he signed he'd still get a chance to live" (55), further portraying the corruption of the Soviet Union. In which any person to disrespect the government in any manner was harshly punished. The Soviet Union then utilized this policy to enlist fear in the citizens so they would not revolt against the government. Solzhenitsyn highlights this portion of corruption. Despite the novel being fictional, it still reveals the true of experiences that Solzhenitsyn encountered during his prison experience. Solzhenitsyn shows the absurdity and corruption found within the camp walls versus the values the prisoners hold. "You can over work a horse to death. That the doctor ought to understand" (33) demonstrates the disregard doctors have for their patients, conveying an image of an unsympathetic environment. Also, if they are able-bodied, the patients will be put to work on tedious, but yet oppressive work. The narrator writes of how difficult it is to get a sick leave (31), yet with a bribe (143), the doctors will be more than happy to give that person the day off, adding a tinge of corruption to the bureaucratic mix. The prison camp doctors really do not care about the patient; they only care about themselves. Solzhenitsyn observes the paradoxical rule of the illogical ruling the logical. The camp staff members not only have authority, they have more power, as in muscle and weapons, than the prisoners, who are feeble and have nothing, so the prisoners must "growl and submit" ( 57). With this oppression hung over those bright individuals, it deteriorates Russia's progress into becoming a great country, no matter how much the Soviet power thinks it is already great. Solzhenitsyn, through the use of extensive details, wanted to make this point about the insanity of the laws and corruption of the bureaucracy clear.