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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Notes on Setting, Objects & Places

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Objects/Places

'Socialist Way of Life' settlement: A new work location that the 104th squad is rumored to be assigned to. Ivan Denisovich dreads the thought because it is an open area without any protection from the cold. Tiurin, the 104th's squad leader, manages to avoid being reassigned there.

dispensary: The prison infirmary, where the rules of the camp allow for only two prisoners to be placed on the sick list per day. In the beginning of the story, Ivan Denisovich tries unsuccessfully to get on the sick list.

S 854: Ivan Denisovich's prison number; the authorities address him by his number only. A prisoner's dilemma is that if his number is too visible, it is easy to be called upon by the guards and if it is not visible enough, one can be sent to the guardhouse.

guardhouse: The brick building where prisoners are sent for punishment. Captain Buinovsky is given ten days in the guardhouse for insulting Lieutenant Volkvoi. Ten days in the cells can ruin your health for the rest of your life; fifteen days and you face certain death. The members of the 104th know the guardhouse well because they built it.

valenki: Russian word for knee-length felt boots for winter wear, a valenki is almost a necessity. When a shipment of valenki arrives, Ivan Denisovich has to choose whether to keep his leather work boots or the valenki. He chooses the latter.

Ust-Izhma: Ivan Deniosvich's former labor camp, he constantly refers back to his experiences there in comparison with the current 'specials' camp.

magara: Referred by the prisoners as 'Chinese oatmeal' because it is said the authorities got the idea of serving it from the Chinese, it is less filling than real oatmeal. The prisoners are given magara in the morning for breakfast.

spoon (Shukhov's): The spoon that Ivan Denisovich keeps in his valenki. He cast it himself out of aluminum wire and engraved it with the words 'Ust-Izhma 1944.' He takes great pride and joy in this spoon.

New Testament: Referring to the bible, Alyosha the Baptist keeps a copy hidden in a chink in the wall next to his bunk and it has survived every search. He is constantly reading it, many times out loud so that Ivan Denisovich can hear.

salt pork: The most common form of bribery, squad leaders often use salt pork to 'grease the hands' of the officials in order to receive favors. It is an unwritten rule that squad members give up some of the salt pork they get to the squad leader for bribery purposes.

P.P.D.: Stands for Production Planning Department, it is the office that hands out the daily work assignments. To get the good work assignments, squad leaders usually bribe the department officials. Tiurin goes to the P.P.D. to fix up a favorable work report.

morning prayer: Rules and regulations that the chief of the escort guard recites every morning before the prisoners go to work. All the prisoners are sick of hearing it.

Temgenovo: Ivan Denisovich's home village; he became a mason partly because there was a need in Temgenovo for bricklayers. He tries not to waste his time thinking about his home.

kolkhoz: Reference to the process of forcible collectivization, Ivan Denisovich learns about the state of the kolkhoz from his wife's letters. Since many of the men have abandoned the village kolkhoz, the women run it.

carpet painting: The new craft that many villagers of the kolkhoz undertake to make money. Ivan Denisovich's wife wishes that after he gets out, he'd work as a carpet painter and make a lot of money. Ivan Denisovich, however, feels that carpet painting is degrading work for someone with a good pair of hands.

GULAG: A general term for the Soviet camp system. Tiurin is considered a 'true son of the GULAG' because he knows the soviet camp system well.

power station: The work site that the 104th is assigned to, where they work on finishing a half-completed building located within the power station.

prefabs (prefabricated panels): The roofing felt that Ivan Denisovich and Kilgas 'steal' in order to warm up the machine room of the building that they are working on. Der, the chief-building-foreman, confronts Tiurin for stealing them.

work report: Paperwork detailing the conditions of work wages and output, it is more important for squad leaders to fix up a good work report than the squad's actual work. Tiurin gets in a good mood because he fixes up a favorable work report.

specials: The name given by the prisoners for the harsher labor camps reserved for political criminals, the story takes place in such a camp. No one is purported to have served out his term in a special.

canteen : A shack with a kitchen and a stove, the canteen is the place where the squads working near the power station get dinner. Ivan Denisovich swipes two extra bowls of kasha there.

hacksaw blade: Ivan Denisovich finds a piece of hacksaw blade during the evening search; he is nearly caught with it, but manages to get it through by hiding the piece in his mitten. He intends to turn it into a small blade.

trowel: Ivan Denisovich keeps a favorite trowel hidden in different places (such as a chink in a wall) so that he can use it whenever he works. When the workday is over, Ivan Denisovich is able to continue because his trowel is not listed like the other tools.

parcels office: The office where prisoners line up to receive their parcels. Ivan Denisovich offers to hold a place in line for Tsezar so that he can get something in return. Everything that comes to the office is closely checked and examined.

ten days: The name Tsezar uses to refer to Ivan Denisovich's penknife (in reference to how many days in the guardhouse one can get for having one), it is shorter than half a finger, but able to cut salt pork. For Ivan Denisovich, lending his penknife is another opportunity to earn some favors.

appeals: The formal process of making camp requests, most of the appeals are never replied to and the others are flatly rejected. Ivan Denisovich tells Alyosha the Baptist that he believes prayers are like the appeals.

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