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A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich
Although Shukhov is confined in an unjust and cruel special camp, hedoes not reflect on his previous free and comfortable life, butinstead accepts the society he is in and makes the best out of it.The novel, A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich seeks tohighlight the role that an individual has and his importance to thesociety that he subscribes (Klimoff 77). The hard work and thecruelty that exists in the special detention camp demands forcooperation and contribution from every person. This importance ofevery individual is essential in any form of society, be it a school,prison, church or even a choir. In a school society, every averageindividual has a crucial role and is immensely important for thesuccess of the society at large.
In Shukhov’s society, the gang members are extremely important tothe society. The food that the prisoners are served depends on howmuch they work as a group. Therefore, if one prisoner fails to workhard, the food served for the entire group will be reduced. With theextreme cold weather in the camp, the members must work tirelessly inorder to keep warm. Survival in the camp is of utmost importance(Scammell 156). The individuals must work together and support eachother in order in order to survive in the prison. This is exemplifiedby the quote, “who is a Zek’s main enemy? Another Zek. If onlythey weren’t at odds with one another-ah, what a difference theywould make.” This is a quote from the novel in page 121 thatclearly shows the importance of an individual in society.
Individuals in a society must act in the interest of the society.This is a way of ensuring that the group achieves its goals.Individuals must act with respect and kindness for others. This is arole that is critically essential in ensuring the survival of thesociety. The individuals must work hard since the portion of the foodthat they are given depends on the amount of work that the entiregroup does. The quote, “Everything was so arranged in the campthat the prisoners egged one another on. It was like this: eitheryou all got a little bit extra or you croaked. You`re slacking yourat – d`you think I`m willing to go hungry just because of you?"”shows that every individual was extremely important to the society(Klimoff 101). How and why a prisoner acted was vital for thesurvival of others. Although the prisoners were in extremely inhumanand barbaric living conditions, they sought to maintain their dignityand that of others. Some of the individuals, as well as Shukhov didnot participate in stealing, corruption or disobedience. This isclearly demonstrated when the prisoners refuse to refer to each otherwith the numbers assigned by the prison officers. They, however referto each other as Zeks (Solzhenit︠s︡ynand Aleksandr 49). This helped in ensuring that the individuals werestill hopeful of their survival despite the long periods in prisonand the hard labor.
In a school society, although the conditions are not inhuman orbarbaric, the contribution of every individual is critical for thesuccess of the society. For instance, in study groups, the role andthe contribution of every individual cannot be underestimated. Thesuccess of such a study group depends on the contributions of eachand every member. Each member is assigned a task, which he or shemust accomplish in order for the group to succeed (Nakassis 83). Itis worth noting that in a school society, the individual members arenot fighting for survival, but for academic excellence. This is asignificant difference between a school society and the Shukhov’ssociety. The average score on examinations that the school recordsdepends on the efforts of every individual student. Failure one ormore student to work hard and pass in the examinations affects theperformance of the entire society.
A leader in every society is an individual whose contribution andimportance is utmost relevance. In the Shukhov’s society, theleader of the gang is described as critically essential to thesuccess of the group’s ability to get sufficient food, whichenhanced their chances of survival. This quote, “……but ateam leader can tell his men to get on with the job even during thebreak, and they`ll do it. Because he`s the one who feeds them…….”is a clear indication of the role that a leader plays in a society(Solzhenit︠s︡ynand Aleksandr 107). A team leader is an individual who directs andcoordinates the activities of a group. Every society is automaticallydesigned and structured in a way that they need direction andguidance in order to work as a team. In Shukhov’s society, the teamleader of the gang he belonged to was extremely important. The leaderwas largely responsible for the survival of the group. He negotiatedfor the amount of food and the type of job that the gang was given.He would negotiate for sufficient food and less hard work for theteam.
In contemporary society such as a school, a leader is of significantimportance. Any group, team or society has no leader lacks directionand purpose. A school society needs a leader whose role is to ensurethat measure and policies are put in place for the academic successof the society. The school head or leader is consulted on matters ofdecision making and offers guidance and direction. Student leadersare also critically important in ensuring that the welfare of otherindividual students are catered for by the administration (Nakassis78). It is abundantly clear that the role a leader plays in a schoolsociety is almost similar to that of the leader in Shukhov’ssociety. However, it is worth noting that the two leaders arefighting for two different interests for their societal members.Whereas the leader’s role in Shukhov’s society is to fight forthe survival of the prisoner’s, a school head or a student leaderseeks to enhance the improvement of various amenities.
Competitiveness and cooperation are two vital elements in everysociety. Society members must work together for the good of eachother. In Shukhov’s society, the hard work and the competitivenessof the individual prisoners enhances the chances for survival for therest of the members. Prisoners must also cooperate in order toachieve success. It is evident that the prisoners had the duty ofcooperating with the prison officers in order to survive at the camp(Scammell 99). They had to do the hard labor and withstand the harshcondition such as the freezing temperatures if they hard to increasetheir chances of survival up to their release time.
In the contemporary society outside the prison such as in a schoolsociety, cooperation and competitiveness are essential elements forsucceeding in life. It is evident that the current society is rifewith competition and a few people who are hardworking and cooperatewith the set guidelines and policies are able to achieve greatsuccess. In a school society, students must cooperate with eachother, as well as with the administration if they must succeed intheir studies. The contribution of each individual in society isvital for the success of the entire group (Nakassis 112). However,the cooperation must be based on love for one another. This is wellrepresented by a quote from John Locke that says, “To love ourneighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society,that by that alone one might determine all the cases in socialmorality”. The prisoners loved and cared for each other andhence the ability to survive in the cold camp in Siberia.
Being in a specific society is more often than not a choice that noone makes. People are born into societies or are forced intosocieties by circumstances. For instance, Shukhov did not choose tobelong to his society. In his condition, it is impossible to opt outof the society he is in. however, it is prudent for him to fit intothe society and get the best out of it. It is prudent to always seekto move upwards in life, rather than succumbing to conditions andcircumstances. The quote by Solzhenitsyn from A world Split apart,“The ascension will be similar to climbing onto the nextanthropological stage. No one on earth has any way leftbut—upward”. Is a clear statement that despite the hardshipor circumstances in one’s society, it is always prudent to seek torise and overcome the challenges.
Individuals in a society are abundantly important. Every individualplays a vital role that contributes towards the success of thesociety. The case of Shukhov is a clear and perfect representationthat every average individual plays in society. The attainment of asociety goal is largely dependent on the role every individual plays.In the contemporary society, this paper has clearly shown theimportance of individuals. The school society is a perfect example ofhow every individual in society plays a role.
Scammell, Michael. Solzhenitsyn. London: Paladin, 2011.Print.
Solzhenit︠s︡ynand Aleksandr, I. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich., 2005. Print.
Nakassis, Dimitri. Individuals and Society in MycenaeanPylos. Leiden [etc.: Brill, 2013. Print.
Klimoff, Alexis. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: ACritical Companion. Evanston, Ill: Northwestern Press, 1997.Print.