Why did Solzhenitsyn choose to show one typical day in the life of prisoners rather than creating a narrative that covered a longer time span?

Expert Answers
clstockdale80 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"How can you expect a man who's warm to understand a man who's cold?" Solzhenitsyn writes in his novel of a Russian concentration camp, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. This is the challenge the author faced in writing a short work of this sort, far different from the massive Gulag Archipelago on the same topic. Solzhenitsyn portrays an ordinary character on an ordinary day in an ordinary Russian camp. Despite the averageness of this premise, the reader can hardly help from being deeply moved by the story. The story, written in the "a day in the life of" style, drags us along through the both mundane and extraordinary efforts that it takes to survive...even for one day in the camp. By the end of the novel, the reader feels that the end of an epic journey has been completed, yet this odyssey of sorts was just a day, and the missing books that could follow would exhaust the reader yet again. In this sense, Solzhenitsyn creates both the themes of hope and hopelessness that the novel is known and loved for.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question