One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Section 3 (pg. 41-57)
As the 104th wait for Tiurin to come with their work assignment, Fetiukov scrounges for cigarette butts. Buinovsky barks at him to stop and warns him that he'll get a disease smoking other people's ends. Fetiukov counters that soon enough, the Captain will be doing the same. Senka Klevshin, who is deaf and not following the conversation, chimes in by saying that the Captain should not have shown his pride too much. He thinks that they are talking about the incident that morning when the Captain got ten days in the guardhouse. Denisovich thinks, "There was truth in that. Better to growl and submit. If you were stubborn they broke you." pg. 41 Captain Buinovsky, being a newcomer and used to giving commands, does not yet know to fear the authorities.
Kilgas, a Lett with a reputation for joking, wonders when they will get another snowstorm. Prisoners long for snowstorms because they do not have to work. Just then, Tiurin walks in with the day's work assignment; the 104th is assigned to the half-completed building at the power station. Every member is given his task.
Although abandoned for over two months, now that the 104th is working on it, life comes back to the building. Ivan Denisovich and Kilgas, the two best workers in the squad, are ordered to find a way to board up the windows of the machine room in order to make it warmer. They scrounge up some prefabs (prefabricated panels) from a construction site and carry it away unassumingly, so as not to be caught by the superintendents Der and Shkuropatenko. Tiurin is pleased with the find. After fixing the stove, Ivan Denisovich puts up the prefabs, while Tiurin heads to the office to settle the work report. One of the most important jobs of a squad leader is fixing the work report to make the squad seem productive. It is more important than the work itself because rations are handed out based on how much work is reportedly done.
Gopchik, the youngest member of the 104th, asks Ivan Denisovich to help him cast a spoon out of some aluminum wire that he finds. Ivan Denisovich takes a fatherly interest in Gopchik because he has never had a son, only two daughters. Gopchik fawns on everyone in the squad, and is quickly learning the ropes of camp survival. Ivan Denisovich notices that it is almost time for dinner and that they had only begun to start working:
"Shukov looked up at the sky and gasped--the sun had climbed almost to the dinner hour. Wonder of wonders! How time flew when you were working! That was something he'd often noticed. The days rolled by in the camp--they were over before you could say knife. But the years, they never rolled by; they never moved by a second." pg. 52-53
While the others haul sand and move blocks, Ivan Denisovich, Kilgas, and Senka--the chosen masons for the day--talk around the stove. They joke about how close Ivan Denisovich is to the end of his sentence. The story of Ivan Denisovich's imprisonment is revealed. Although officially charged with high treason, the real story is this: During WWII, he was captured by the Germans and somehow managed to escape. Upon reaching his own lines, he was charged with being a spy and given the choice of either confessing or death. He chose to live.
Senka, sensing that they are talking about escapes, yells, "Three times I escaped, and three times they caught me." (p. 56) Senka is known to have been in the concentration camp, Buchenwald. Ivan Denisovich compares his experiences in the camp up north with his life now in the specials, the harsher camps reserved for political prisoners. He thinks that life in the specials is quieter, but Fetiukov, entering the conversation, reminds them that in the specials, squealers are known to have their throats cut. The whistle for dinner blows.