Give examples of quotes that show the theme of betrayal in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, is a novel full of many kinds of betrayal, both real and imagined. Several types of betrayal from the novel are reflected in the following quotes:

Betrayal by one's own body:  “The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favors, it always wants more tomorrow.” 

The rigors of a Siberian prison camp are made even more unbearable when Shukhov's body continually betrays him by expressing its chronic hunger.

Betrayal by God: “Prayers are like those appeals of ours. Either they don't get through or they're returned with 'rejected' scrawled across 'em.” 

Shukhov has been denied his "daily bread" by man, and he feels equally betrayed by God for not answering his prayers. 

Betrayal by the government: “Since then it’s been decreed that                                                 the sun is highest at one o’clock.”
                                             “Who decreed that?”
                                             “The Soviet government.”

This is indicative of a government which is driven by its own self-interests rather than the needs of its citizens.

Betrayal by a fellow man: “When you're cold, don't expect sympathy from someone who's warm" and “Beat a dog once and you only have to show him the whip.” 

The first quote is expressed by Shukhov when a fellow prisoner refuses to admit him to the hospital for a day of bed-rest; the second quote refers to Tyurin's violent threats to mercilessly keep prisoners (fellow human beings) working.

Betrayal is a common experience for all of us at times; however, from the inside of a Siberian prison, these common betrayals are intensified and multiplied. 

Sources:

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