One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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Alyoshka 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 imprisonment but rather as a means for salvation. He sees the Gulag as providing him the ideal setting to develop spiritually, as he is denied material possessions and temptations, which would distract him on his spiritual journey. Alyoshka’s perspective of the camp as a cross he bears for God allows him to find purpose and happiness in the Gulag, which Shukhov notices and is intrigued by. Shukhov recognizes that Alyoshka’s humility leads to vulnerability in the hostile environment, but in the end, Shukov is inspired to give freely of himself after hearing Alyoshka’s spiritual message.

Alyoshka Quotes in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich quotes below are all either spoken by Alyoshka or refer to Alyoshka. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Power and Authority Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the New American Library edition of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich published in 2008.
Section 12 Quotes

“Well,” [Shukhov] said conclusively, “however much you pray it doesn't shorten your stretch. You’ll sit it out from beginning to end anyhow.”
“Oh, you mustn’t pray for that either,” said Alyoshka, horrified. “Why do you want freedom? In freedom your last grain of faith will be choked with weeds. You should rejoice that you’re in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul.”

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov (speaker), Alyoshka (speaker)
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

This exchange betwen Shukhov and Aloyshka occurs after Shukhov and most of his squad have gone to bed, and just before the guards call for a second count.

Here we witness two radically different views about prison life. For Aloyshka, prison is a religious opportunity where one is able to think about and develop a closer relationship with one's soul. Freedom, for Aloyshka, is something that could easily destroy one's faith; freedom exposes one to a multitude of options and possibilities in life that can turn one away from a religious path. In prison, however, this isn't the case--faith is strengthened by the lack of any worldly distractions. 

For Shukhov, this way of thinking seems twisted and idealistic. Regardless of Aloyshka's piety and devotion, Shukhov says he is doomed to live out his sentence the same as everyone else. He therefore sees no point in Aloyshka's devoutness. But getting out of prison, as we've seen, is not the goal of Aloyshka's faith. This clash showcases an interesting meeting between two minds with diametrically opposed views of their lives in prison.

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Alyoshka Character Timeline in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The timeline below shows where the character Alyoshka appears in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section1 (Shukhov wakes up to Kolya taking Shukhov’s temperature)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
...received four twenty-five-ounce loaves of bread, but he was only given three. Meanwhile, Shukhov hears Alyosha murmuring his prayers. (full context)
Section 2 (Kolya takes Shukhov’s Temperature to Volkovoy’s search)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...on their beds waiting for the march to work. Pavlo is up writing something, and Alyosha is reading from a hand written copy the New Testament. (full context)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
Shukhov overhears Alyosha reciting from the bible. He reads, “If you suffer, it must not be for murder,... (full context)
Section 4 (The story of Shukhov leaving home to arrival at the work site)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
...arrive at work just as the sun is rising in a red haze. Shukhov sees Alyosha smiling as he looks up at the sun. He wonders what Alyosha has to smile... (full context)
Section 6 (The beginning of work to news of the murdered stool pigeons)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
The men continue working until the trucks arrive with the blocks to build the wall. Alyoshka brings in a shovel full of coal. Some men tell him to dump it on... (full context)
Section 8 (Tyurin’s story to the end of the work day)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
...refuses to work with him any longer. Tyurin sends Fetyukov to move blocks and tells Alyoshka to help Buynovsky with the mortar. Buynovsky agrees without hesitation. The narrator notes that Alyoshka... (full context)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
...wall to keep the pace up. Buynovsky would have agreed, but he lacked the strength. Alyoshka, on the other hand, happily agrees and continues working. Shukhov notes that Alyoshka and the... (full context)
Section 12 (The purchase of the tobacco to Shukhov’s going to bed)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...the night in the cells. Here it is still bearable.” After the prayer, he sees Alyoshka on the adjacent bunk reading his bible. (full context)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
Alyoshka hears Shukhov’s prayer and turns to him. He tells Shukhov that he heard his soul... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Shukhov attempts to rebut Alyoshka’s message by telling him about a priest in his village who was the richest man... (full context)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
...goes smoothly, and Shukhov returns to bed. He hands Tsezar’s parcel back to him. As Alyoshka enters the room Shukhov notes that his problem is that he is impractical, that he... (full context)