Section 7 (pg. 106-119) Notes from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Section 7 (pg. 106-119)

Ivan Denisovich runs to get in line at the parcels office while Tsezar makes his way to the boards where the names of those who have parcels are listed. There are at least fifteen people already waiting in line with their bags and sacks. Every parcel is opened and its contents checked. Ivan Denisovich has received parcels before, but has since told his wife not to send them. Although every once in a while he still longs for someone to tell him that he has received a package, for the most part, he has learned to live without them. He does not need another thing to remind him of home. It is just an added burden, those parcels: "He had less and less cause to remember Temgenovo and his home there. Life in camp wore him out from reveille to bedtime, with not a second for idle reflections." pg. 107

In line, he finds out that there would be work on Sunday.

Topic Tracking: Authority 7

Some of the trusties bully themselves in front of the line. They are prisoners with soft office jobs. Those who work on the outside consider them lowest of the lows and vice versa. The trusties are a gang of their own and they have the guards on their side. Tsezar shows up and heads for a fellow Muscovite, Pyotr Mikhailych, who is reading a newspaper article about a theatre review. Muscovites seem to be able to detect each other. They are known to talk fast, as if trying to outtalk each other. Before giving his place in line to Tsezar, Ivan Denisovich asks if he can bring him his supper, fully expecting Tsezar to offer it to him. Tsezar complies with his wishes.

Ivan Denisovich runs back to his barracks to avoid seeing any guards. There is a rule issued by the camp commandant that no one is to go around alone. Although it is an unenforceable law, Ivan Denisovich is always cautious. Reaching his bunk, he is glad that everything is in good order. His bread is still sewn inside his mattress; the guards have not been snooping.

After taking off his winter clothes, Ivan Denisovich runs to the mess hall where the Limper (the mess orderly) and the mess chief are holding back the crowd of zeks fighting to get in. Another questionable rule from the camp commandant is that prisoners must enter the mess hall with their squads, in double file. The mess chief, the Limper, and all the cooks only look out for their own interests. They are a gang of their own. The Limper wields a big stick that he uses to control the flow of zeks. The mess chief is feared because he has power over the zek's food. Ivan Denisovich manages to fight his way in along with his squad members. Ivan Denisovich's quick eye allows him to cut in front of another prisoner for a serving tray. Gopchik, with his cunning, obtains a tray as well. It is noted again that he will do well in camp life. The 104th receives twenty-four portions (excluding Pantaleyev, the squealer's). Ivan Denisovich makes mental note of which bowls contain the thick stew and maneuvers the tray in a way as to sit opposite them. With his two bowls of stew (one being Tsezar's), Ivan Denisovich drinks the warm broth--the moment he has been waiting for: "Goo-ood."

"And now Shukov complained about nothing: neither about the length of his stretch, nor about the length of the day, nor about their swiping another Sunday. This was all he thought about now: we'll survive. We'll stick it out, God willing, till it's over." pg. 117

Ivan Denisovich eats his supper without bread. The bread is handed out in accordance to the work they had done that day. Ivan Denisovich gets the maximum cut, twelve ounces. Since two helpings and bread is too much, he saves the bread for tomorrow since the belly will be hungry tomorrow. The day has been good to Ivan Denisovich--two helpings for dinner and two for supper. As Ivan Denisovich eats, he notices prisoner U 81, a tall old man from the 64th unit, sit opposite him. The 64th has been sent to work in the Socialist Way of Life settlement instead of the 104th and Ivan Denisovich knows that the site offers no protection from the cold. Yet, this old man is unlike all the other zeks. He sits upright and brings his spoon up to his lips. He does not put his bread on the dirty table, but on his clean rag. Somehow, even through countless years of prison life, he has maintained a sense of dignity.

Topic Tracking: Survival 6
Topic Tracking: Work 7

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