The author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, received the Nobel-Prize in Literature in 1970, for painting the world a clearer picture of the injustices done to the prisoners of the Stalinist regime. Solzhenitsyn wrote the novel in such a quiet disimpassioned way it was as if their day were as normal as the next-door neighbors'. Then again, is it really normal Is it human nature to walk in queues with eyes fixed on the ground following somebody else's every command Is it not rather human nature to seek freedom even in the smallest measure and even in an environment where it is systematically suppressed
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines freedom as having the power to determine without restraint or coercion. Desiring freedom then is tantamount to establishing some degree of power and control over oneself and others. As though to say that it is instinctive among human beings, the novel described many instances of the prisoners defying or cheating the authority. Committing small acts of disobedience was as much power as the prisoners got and they took their chances despite the consequences. For instance the prisoner, Buinovsky, when frisked, resisted saying that the guard was in violation of the criminal code. A former naval officer, he genuinely believed in communism but he thought too that it had to be guided by the law. A newcomer, he still had a certain expectation of control over his person. (Solzhenitsyn, 28) The
prisoners had in the first place been fris...
However not following what was imposed could well be an attempt to establish some degree of freedom and power. Being able to speak up against it, as Buinovsky did, is another.
There is likewise power in being able to purchase something; The success of capitalism will attest to this. In the beginning and in the end, there was mention of Shukhov wanting to and finally being able to buy tobacco, and it made the day almost good. "[H]e'd smuggled that bit of hacksaw blade through; [H]e'd bought that tobacco."(Solzhenitsyn, 139)
How the main character saw himself was also discussed all through out the text as though to underscore the fact that the Gulag prisoners like other human beings needed to be distinctive; They needed dignity. Despite having been "whipped to submission" so to speak, they needed a sense of self. "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."( Solzhenitsyn, 88) The main character, Shukhov, had a special spoon, which he himself crafted. Unlike other prisoners who squealed on others and complained about work, he prided himself at being a good worker, a good prisoner and a good survivor. When he ate, he always took off his hat like a dignified man would. He would never rat on his fellow, which he considered a chance to enjoy the favors of the authorities at the expense of others. The most admirable prisoner for him was U 81, who conducted himself righteously. "[A]ll [Shukhov's] longing was concentrated in that cigarette butt...it seemed [like]
freedom itself -- but he would never lower himself like