One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Section 5 (pg. 77-96)
In the cold weather, a mason must set the bricks correctly before the mortar freezes. Ivan Denisovich, with all his years of experience, makes no mistakes. All the masons work at a steady rhythm. The Captain and Fetiukov haul the mortar up the ramp. But Fetiukov gets lazy and Tiurin assigns him the job of lifting blocks. Alyosha replaces Fetiukov and the Captain immediately orders him to work faster. Alyosha, who does whatever anybody tells him, obliges.
Both Ivan Denisovich and Kilgas are on their third row when Der, the hated chief building foreman, confronts Tiurin and threatens him with another prison term for the stolen prefabs in the machine room. Tiurin and the other members of the 104th crowd around Der. Tiurin, shaking uncontrollably, says softly, but loud enough for everyone to hear, "Your time for giving terms has passed, you bastard. If you say one word, you blood-sucker, it'll be your last day on earth. Remember that." (p. 82) Der gets the message. He tries to maintain a semblance of dignity befitting an authority figure by criticizing Ivan Denisovich's bricklaying. Der goes away, having received a death threat for trying to put on airs. Although the authorities do not expect him to do any real work and he gets good rations and separate living quarters, he tries to exercise the authority of his position, even at the expense of fellow prisoners. Before his imprisonment, Der is said to have served in some government ministry.
The members of the 104th work feverishly on the wall again. The end of the workday is near and the other squads are turning in their tools and lining up at the gate. Not wanting to have Tiurin penalized for handing in the squad's tools too late, Ivan Denisovich calls the other masons to hand in their trowels while he continues working with his, which is not on the tool list. It is his own trowel that he has kept hidden in different work areas. Tiurin commends Ivan Denisovich and tells him that the squad will not be able to live without him when his term is over. The others hurry to get in line since latecomers get the guardhouse. Ivan Denisovich sends everyone away except for Senka. Although Tiurin tells them to throw the extra mortar over the wall, Ivan Denisovich works double time to finish it off. Senka takes off but Ivan Denisovich looks the wall over--a job well done.
"But Shukov wasn't made that way--eight years in a camp couldn't change his nature. He worried about anything he could make use of, about every scrap of work he could do--nothing must be wasted without good reason." pg. 88
Before heading back, Ivan Denisovich finds a big stone to hide his trowel. He catches up to Senka, who has slowed down. When they reach the gate, the hundreds of prisoners already lined up give them a hard time for being late. The prisoners then form fives for the count. Ivan Denisovich, being in a content, silly mood, asks the Captain where the moon goes when it's not visible. Mocking his question, the Captain asks where he thinks it goes. Ivan Denisovich answers that in his village, they say that God crumbles up the moon into stars. The Captain asks if he believes in God. Ivan Denisovich answers yes. The Captain then asks why God crumbles the moon into stars. Ivan Denisovich replies, "Why can't you understand? The stars fall down now and then. The gaps have to be filled." pg. 90-91
The prisoner count comes up one short. After a recount, word goes around that the dark little Moldavian, known to be a real spy, is missing. Ivan Denisovich's thoughts, however, are on the firewood that they had forgotten to collect. Every night after work, the prisoners would pick up some kindling, and even though most of it is confiscated, some would usually make its way through. Just then, Tsezar shows up from his office job and asks the Captain how things are going. The Captain complains about the day's hard work. Tsezar, who has a special liking for the Captain, gives him a smoke. While Tsezar and the Captain discuss film, three figures come out of the repair shop. The Moldavian is found--he has been sleeping on the job. Back in line, everyone curses him and his squad leader and another member of his squad hit him. The head escort counts again.