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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The plot of this short novel is stunningly simple: The reader follows the life of a simple carpenter, Ivan, as he tries to survive one more day in the horrors of a Soviet labor camp in the 1950s. The simple, unadorned style, however, only amplifies the horror of life reduced to its most essential elements—finding food and staying alive. Underneath the insanity, cruelty, and oppression of this inhumane system lies the supreme dignity of a human being who refuses to be dehumanized.

Related Readings

"Teach Your Children"—personal essay by Irina Eremia Bragin

"The First Gulag Returns to Its Monastic Roots"—newspaper article by Margaret Shapiro

"Death and the Soldier"—folktale retold by Charles Downing

"Requiem"—poem by Anna Akhmatova

"Bringing the First Amendment (Live!) into the Schools"—political commentary by Nat Hentoff

Study Guide


McGraw-Hill / Glencoe