One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Characters

Ivan Denisovich Shukhov

The novel’s protagonist, Shukhov is a prisoner in a Soviet Gulag in 1951. Shukhov’s experience represents that of the typical Russian subjected to incarceration in the soviet Gulag system. He is an uneducated, but skilled… (read full character analysis)


The foreman of Gang 104, the work gang to which Shukhov belongs in the Gulag. Tyurin is a strict, but noble leader. As the foreman of the gang, he is a sort of father figure… (read full character analysis)


Also known as “The Captain” because of his naval background, Buynovsky has not been in the Gulag as long as Shukhov and other characters. Despite his education and esteemed naval background, he struggles to adapt… (read full character analysis)


A privileged member of Gang 104, Tsezar is an educated, worldly man, who receives parcels on a regular basis. The contents of his parcels make him the envy of the other gang members and he… (read full character analysis)


Also known as “Alyoshka The Baptist,” he is a devoutly religious member of Gang 104. Alyoshka holds a vastly different view of the Gulag than the other characters, viewing his sentence not as unjust… (read full character analysis)
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Known by Shukhov as “The Scrounger”, he depicts the way the Gulag ravages an individual’s dignity. As opposed to Shukhov, who takes pride in his resourcefulness, skills, and principals, Fetyukov is constantly begging and scrounging… (read full character analysis)

Pavlo Pavlo

The deputy foreman of Gang 104. Although is a younger prisoner, he is not afraid to command the men working under him and does not flinch when standing up to authority figures. Although Pavlo is… (read full character analysis)


A Latvian prisoner and skilled mason, Kildigs’ skills in the trades and good sense of humor gain him Shukhov’s respect and make him a popular member of Gang 104. Shukhov notes that Kildigs has a… (read full character analysis)


A sixteen-year-old boy imprisoned for bringing milk to nationalist rebels hiding in the forest. Gopchik’s adult sentence to serve in the Gulag despite his status as a child depicts the unyielding tyranny and lack of… (read full character analysis)


A deaf prisoner and member of gang 104. Because of his hearing impairment, Senka is largely isolated from the group and doesn't communicate much. What the gang does know of his story, his adventures in… (read full character analysis)

The Two Estonians

Described as being like brothers, the two Estonians are always considered as a single unit. These two men are not actually brothers, and in fact only met when they both were sent to the camp… (read full character analysis)


A medical orderly in the Gulag, who in reality had no medical training at all before coming to the camp. The camp Doctor instructed him to lie about his literary background and claim to be… (read full character analysis)

Lieutenant Volkovoy

The disciplinary officer in the camp and the cruelest of all of the guards present in the novel. Volkovoy exercises his power and force simply because he can. In the past, he has carried a… (read full character analysis)


A building-foreman who is despised by the other Zeks, is egotistical because of his position of power within the camp. He wears a new, clean regulation coat, and a leather hat, but like the other… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Stepan Grigorich
A doctor at the camp who believes that work is the best remedy for illness.
The Tartar
A guard who doles out unfair punishments to the prisoners.