One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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Tsezar 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 uses the items he gets in the parcels to attain privileged positions within the camp. Like Buynovsky, however, Tsezar struggles to adapt to camp life and feels superior to the other Zeks. Although he his intelligent, Tsezar’s lack of “street smarts” make him unable to take care of himself in the Gulag. Shukhov recognizes Tsezar’s vulnerability and looks out for him, which entitles Shukhov to a cut in Tsezar’s goods. In the end, Tsezar’s pride is leveled when he must depend on Shukhov, who he considers inferior, to protect his possessions.

Tsezar 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 Tsezar or refer to Tsezar. 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 3 Quotes

The thoughts of a prisoner—they’re not free either. They kept returning to the same things. A single idea keeps stirring. Would they feel that piece of bread in the mattress? Would he have any luck at the sick bay that evening? Would they put Buynovsky in the cells? And how did Tsezar get his hands on that warm vest. He’d probably greased a palm or two in the warehouse for people’s private belongings? How else?

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov (speaker), Buynovsky, Tsezar
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage occurs while Shukhov and his fellow zeks are marching from the prison camp to the town where they'll be working for the day.

Here, we get a sense of how imprisonment in the camp affects not only a prisoner's external actions and behaviors--what he does and does not do in order to avoid punishment--but a prisoner's inner mental life as well. The psychological realm of one's inner thoughts--which some might conceive as a private, inner refuge which the outer world cannot ultimately influence--is revealed here, in the case of Shukhov, to actually be deeply impacted by the prison environment.

Even Shukhov's intimate, internal train of thought is somehow regulated by the prison: he's worried that his hidden piece of bread might be discovered, that he'll be rejected again by the sick bay, and he envies Tsezar's vest, which leads him to speculate about the manner in which Tsezar acquired it. This illustrates the severity of the anxiety which occupies much of Shukhov's thought. A moment of peace and contentment--though such a thing does exist, however crudely, at certain points in the novel--is something which seems very out of reach for Shukhov, here. His mind can never be steady or contently rested, for his thoughts are always "returning to the same things." Shukhov's thoughts are almost always subconsciously running through a mental checklist about the rights and wrongs of his behavior in order to gauge the probability of his being punished by the authorities.

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

The timeline below shows where the character Tsezar appears in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 2 (Kolya takes Shukhov’s Temperature to Volkovoy’s search)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
...his numbers are repainted, Shukhov goes back to stand with his gang. He notices that Tsezar is smoking a cigarette and the desire he feels for it is stronger than the... (full context)
Section 3 (Volkovoy’s search to the story of Shukhov leaving home)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
...beneath his jacket is a human chest, and beneath that, his soul. They discover that Tsezar and Buynovsky are wearing unregulated clothing. When the guards mark him down, Buynovsky tells them... (full context)
Section 5 (The arrival at the work site to the beginning of work)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
...orders for the day. Tyurin calls Pavlo to go with him to the office, and Tsezar follows. Tsezar is well off, and had paid the authorities to give him a job... (full context)
Section 7 (The news of the murdered stoop pigeons to Tyurin’s story)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
...it is something miraculous. Fetyukov shoots an angry look at Shukhov and Buynovsky, and leaves. Tsezar’s bowl of oatmeal is on the table, waiting to be delivered to the office where... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
Shukhov takes the bowl to the office where Tsezar works. When he walks in, he notes that it is as warm as a bathhouse.... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Shukhov approaches Tsezar’s desk and finds him debating Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible with another prisoner. Tsezar claims Eisenstein... (full context)
Section 9 (The end of the work day to the arrival at the camp)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Tsezar joins the group from the office where he’d worked all day. He asks the men... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...the guards would become so enraged they’d kill the prisoner before bringing him back. Meanwhile, Tsezar and Buynovsky continue their conversation about Eisenstein’s films. (full context)
Section 10 (Arrival at the camp to Tsezar’s arrival at the parcel room)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
As the search begins, Shukhov tells Tsezar he will go wait at the parcel room and save his place in line. Tsezar... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...hurries off to the parcel room. Tyurin must stay behind to report the day’s work. Tsezar walks calmly toward the notice posted in the camp alerting prisoner whether they’d received a... (full context)
Section 11 (Tsezar’s arrival at the parcel room to the purchase of the tobacco)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Tsezar arrives at the parcel room wearing a new fur hat that had arrived from the... (full context)
Section 12 (The purchase of the tobacco to Shukhov’s going to bed)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Shukhov hurries back to barracks 9 so he doesn't miss Tsezar’s arrival with his parcel. Tsezar has already arrived, and has the contents of his parcel... (full context)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Just then, Buynovsky returns delighted because Tsezar has given him tea to make for them. Shukhov ignores the men, not wanting to... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...the barracks. He tells Tyurin he is there to as why signatures from Buynovsky and Tsezar for wearing extra clothing that morning had not been turned in. Tyurin tells him that... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
...sentence, as he’d been wishfully hoping that Volkovoy would forget about his crime that morning. Tsezar slips him a few cigarettes as he leaves. He bids his gang farewell, and some... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
As Shukhov gets his valenki on, notices the contents of Tsezar’s parcel are on his bunk. Shukhov notes that he should have taken the items directly... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Outside, the Zeks who were in line are shouting at the latecomers for moving slowly. Tsezar emerges shivering, pretending to be sick. He is sent to the rear of the column.... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...count. Shukhov is not the first back in, but he watches for anyone messing with Tsezar’s parcel. He quickly puts his boots near the stove and goes back to his bunk,... (full context)
Power and Authority Theme Icon
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
...rolls over, the guards call another count. Shukhov curses the guards, and as he does, Tsezar hands up two biscuits, two limps of sugar and a piece of sausage. Shukhov thanks... (full context)
Identity, Principles, and Dignity Theme Icon
Competition vs. Camaraderie Theme Icon
Belief and Faith Theme Icon
The count 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... (full context)