One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Ivan Denisovich Shukhov Character Analysis

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, working-class man. Shukhov was wrongly accused of betraying the Soviet Union during WWII, and forced to testify against himself to save his own life. Shukhov is strictly principled, proud of his skills in the trades, and determined to maintain his dignity.

Ivan Denisovich Shukhov 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 Ivan Denisovich Shukhov or refer to Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. 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 1 Quotes

Shukhov never overslept reveille. He always got up at once, for the next ninety minutes, until they assembled for work, belonged to him, not the authorities, and any old-timer could earn a bit.

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov
Page Number: 3-4
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Section 6 Quotes

And then every thought was swept out of his head. All his memories and worries faded. He had only one idea—to try to fix the vent in the stovepipe and hang it up to prevent it smoking.

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

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“The sun’s already reached its peak,” he announced.
“If it's reached its peak,” said the captain reflectively, “it’s one o’clock, not noon.”
“What do you mean?” Shukhov demurred. “Every old-timer knows that the sun stands highest at dinner-time.”
“Old timers, maybe,” snapped the captain. “But since their day a new decree has been passed, and now the sun stands highest at one.”
“Who passed that decree?”
“Soviet power.”

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov (speaker), Buynovsky (speaker)
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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Section 8 Quotes

And now Shukhov was no longer seeing that distant view where the sun gleamed on snow…Shukhov was only seeing his wall…he worked with drive, but his thoughts were elsewhere.

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

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Section 10 Quotes

It isn't so terrible to unbutton your coat now. We’re going home.
That’s what everyone used to say: “going home.”
We never had time to think of any other home.

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

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Section 11 Quotes

And now Shukhov complained about nothing: neither about the length of his stretch, nor about the length of the day, nor about their swiping another Sunday. This was all he thought about now: "We’ll survive. We’ll stick it out, God willing until it’s over.”

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov (speaker)
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

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Section 12 Quotes

Even eight years as a convict hadn’t turned him into a jackal—and the longer he spent at the camp the stronger he made himself.

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov
Related Symbols: Bread, Tsezar’s Parcel
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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:

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Freedom meant one thing to him—home.
But they wouldn’t let [Shukhov] go home.

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

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Shukhov went to sleep fully content. He’d had many strokes of luck that day: They hadn’t put him in the cells; they hadn't sent his squad to the settlement; he’d swiped a bowl of kasha at dinner…He’d built a wall and enjoyed doing it…
A day without a dark cloud. Almost a happy one.
There were three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days like this in his stretch. From the first clang of the rail to the last clang of the rail.
Three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days.
Three extra days were for leap years.

Related Characters: Ivan Denisovich Shukhov
Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:

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

The timeline below shows where the character Ivan Denisovich Shukhov 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)
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Shukhov wakes up at five in the morning to the sound of reveille. He is in... (full context)
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Shukhov reflects that he never oversleeps reveille. The ninety minutes before work are incredibly valuable to... (full context)
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Shukhov notices that he is feeling sick. He hears his deputy foreman, Pavlo, and the foreman,... (full context)
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Shukhov realizes that a good-natured guard working this morning, so he decides to stay in bed... (full context)
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The very moment Shukhov decides to report sick, his blanket is torn off, and Shukhov sees The Tartar staring... (full context)
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...Tartar tells him that he is being punished for failing to get up at reveille. Shukhov, feeling resentful about the charge, reflects that he wouldn’t have been so upset if he... (full context)
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The Tartar brings Shukhov to the wardens’ quarters, and Shukhov realizes that he is not going to the cells.... (full context)
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...playing checkers. Another guard is still sleeping in his sheepskin valenki (knee high felt boots). Shukhov is delighted that he is not going to the cells, and thanks the Tartar. He... (full context)
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Shukhov goes outside to fill a bucket of water to clean the floor. He sees the... (full context)
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The Tartar is gone when Shukhov returns, but there are four guards in the guardroom arguing over how much food they... (full context)
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Shukhov decides to take his boots off to do the washing to avoid getting them wet.... (full context)
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One of the guards berates Shukhov for using too much water. The guard asks him if he ever watched his wife... (full context)
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Shukhov is pleased to find no crowd at the mess hall. Two or three men from... (full context)
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Shukhov notices a young prisoner at the table cross himself before beginning to eat. He notes... (full context)
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Shukhov takes his spoon, which he calls “his baby”, from his boot and takes off his... (full context)
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After eating, Shukhov heads to the sick bay. Shukhov hides from the Tartar as he makes his way... (full context)
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The sick bay’s interior is completely white and makes Shukhov uncomfortable. The doctors are all still sleeping, but Shukhov discovers Kolya Vdovushkin, the medical assistant,... (full context)
Section 2 (Kolya takes Shukhov’s Temperature to Volkovoy’s search)
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Kolya hands Shukhov a thermometer. Shukhov puts the thermometer in his armpit, and while he waits, he notices... (full context)
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Shukhov watches Kolya as he continues to write, but is unaware that he is writing poetry.... (full context)
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Kolya tells Shukhov the thermometer reads 99.2 and that if it were 100 he would be able to... (full context)
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Shukhov passes back through the camp, which is empty now. Everyone is waiting indoors for work,... (full context)
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Pavlo calls Shukhov by his patronymic, Ivan Denisovich, when he notices he wasn’t sent to solitary confinement. Pavlo... (full context)
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Shukhov overhears Alyosha reciting from the bible. He reads, “If you suffer, it must not be... (full context)
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...years, and never calls his squad out to work a moment before it is necessary. Shukhov puts his shoes and jacket on, and then fastens a length of rope around his... (full context)
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One of the men from Shukhov’s gang is staying back sick. The prisoners know he is not sick, but is being... (full context)
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While waiting, Shukhov remembers that he needs to get the numbers on his jacked touched up. Faded numbers... (full context)
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After his numbers are repainted, Shukhov goes back to stand with his gang. He notices that Tsezar is smoking a cigarette... (full context)
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When the count starts someone informs the gang they are stripping the prisoners’ undershirts. Shukhov is not surprised, as this is the life of a prisoner, but wonders why they... (full context)
Section 3 (Volkovoy’s search to the story of Shukhov leaving home)
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Shukhov welcomes the search knowing that he is not hiding anything. He notes that beneath his... (full context)
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...the search, the cold has gotten beneath the Zeks’ clothing and is there to stay. Shukhov notices his back is aching and he wishes he could be in the camp infirmary... (full context)
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The chief escort guard recites the “morning prayer”, as Shukhov calls it, while the group marches. The “prayer” is a list of marching orders, with... (full context)
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...of the cold. The guards are not allowed to wear anything on their faces, and Shukhov recognizes that the guards’ job is not easy either. (full context)
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The prisoners sink into their thoughts on the walk to work, and Shukhov notes that a prisoner’s thoughts are imprisoned like the prisoners themselves. Shukhov’s thoughts continue to... (full context)
Section 4 (The story of Shukhov leaving home to arrival at the work site)
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The year is 1951, a new year, and Shukhov has the right to sent two letters home. The last letter he sent was in... (full context)
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Shukhov reflects that there is little reason to write home. Sending letters is like dropping a... (full context)
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...farmers are failing to meet their quotas. All of these things are not surprising to Shukhov, they have all happened before. (full context)
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Shukhov does not understand how the population of the community has not grown, despite the push... (full context)
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The men 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... (full context)
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Shukhov looks to Tyurin, the leader of the squad. Tyurin, is serving his second term, and... (full context)
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Shukhov wishes to ask Tyurin where they will be working today, but he does not want... (full context)
Section 5 (The arrival at the work site to the beginning of work)
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...are already surrounding the fire, and won’t let any stranger get near its warmth, so Shukhov takes a seat by the wall. (full context)
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Shukhov feels something sharp pressing against his chest and remembers he has hidden a piece of... (full context)
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Shukhov recalls the way that he used to eat in his village before being incarcerated—pots of... (full context)
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As the prisoners sit around, Shukhov watches Fetyukov walk around collecting cigarette butts, which he breaks apart and rolls into a... (full context)
Section 6 (The beginning of work to news of the murdered stool pigeons)
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...get sand and water for the mortar. The only two left after Tyurin’s assignments are Shukhov and Kildigs, who are the skilled workers in the squad. He tells them they will... (full context)
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Shukhov and Kildigs look at one another. They had come to respect one another because they... (full context)
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Before going to get the felt, Shukhov goes off to retrieve a trowel he’d hidden at the last worksite. After work each... (full context)
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Shukhov and Kildigs walk to where the felt is hidden. The sun is up, but hidden... (full context)
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As Shukhov and Kildigs cross the work site, they see the men from the 82nd trying to... (full context)
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As they approach the place where the felt is hidden, Shukhov notes that he likes working with Kildigs. The only bad thing about him is that... (full context)
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...with the 104th working on it, the building had come back to life. Tyurin sends Shukhov to fix the stovepipe so a fire could be kindled. The other men are sent... (full context)
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Shukhov begins working on the stove. The correct tools are not available, but he has a... (full context)
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Gopchik, a young prisoner, approaches Shukhov with some new aluminum wire asks Shukhov to teach him to make a spoon with... (full context)
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Shukhov sends Gopchik up to hang the stovepipe. Gopchik climbs the ladder nimbly and positions himself... (full context)
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Shukhov, Pavlo and Kildigs set out to find a way to get the blocks to the... (full context)
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Pavlo tells Shukhov, Kildigs, and Senka to take a break before dinner. The men warm their hands beside... (full context)
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Shukhov tells Kildigs not to worry about his twenty-five year sentence. He says that his eight... (full context)
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The narrator reveals Shukhov’s crime of treason. In 1942 Shukhov was in the Russian army on the Northwest Front,... (full context)
Section 7 (The news of the murdered stoop pigeons to Tyurin’s story)
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Kildigs responds to Shukhov’s comment about his time served by claiming that Shukhov’s eight years had been easy, as... (full context)
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Fetyukov chimes in, asking Shukhov if he thinks having your throat slit in your bunk is a quieter life. Pavlo... (full context)
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...squads and only room for two men in the canteen at a time. Pavlo tells Shukhov and Gopchik to follow him and tells Kildigs to bring the other men when he... (full context)
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Pavlo and Shukhov walk into the canteen with Gopchik bringing up the rear. The room is packed, and... (full context)
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Shukhov is glad to see that they are serving real oatmeal. Shukhov reflects on a time... (full context)
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The 104th arrives and gets into line. Shukhov’s job is to get into one of the tables, send away the remaining Zeks from... (full context)
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...counter, making sixteen, but as he turns to calls for more empty bowls to fill, Shukhov swipes them, and brings them to the table. When the cook turns back around, Pavlo... (full context)
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Shukhov begins eating, knowing that Pavlo will give one of the bowls to him, but not... (full context)
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Buynovsky is sitting near Shukhov. Having finished his food, he is trying to warm up before going back to work.... (full context)
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Shukhov takes the bowl to the office where Tsezar works. When he walks in, he notes... (full context)
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Shukhov approaches Tsezar’s desk and finds him debating Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible with another prisoner. Tsezar... (full context)
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As he walks back toward the station, Shukhov finds a piece of a broken hacksaw blade. He picks it up and decides to... (full context)
Section 8 (Tyurin’s story to the end of the work day)
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In the middle of Tyurin’s story, Shukhov asks one of the Estonians for a cigarette until the next day, promising he will... (full context)
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Shukhov jumps up to work, but Kildigs looks at him funny. Kildigs doesn't have to worry... (full context)
...men decide to work in pairs so the mortar doesn’t freeze. Before he begins work, Shukhov notices the expanse of the camp from the second story where he is set to... (full context)
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Shukhov sets the plumb string, and begins laying bricks. The gang works with great efficiency so... (full context)
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...Along with the mechanic, the building-foreman, Der, arrives and climbs the ramp. Kildigs jokes with Shukhov to let him know if Der falls off the icy ramp so he can watch.... (full context)
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Shukhov commands the men to place the bricks on the wall to keep the pace up.... (full context)
Section 9 (The end of the work day to the arrival at the camp)
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...it in the morning. Pavlo begins laying bricks to finish off the freshly mixed mortar. Shukhov pushes Senka out of the way to lay the corner himself because he knows haste... (full context)
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...rest of the mortar over the wall and turn in their tools. Kildigs, Senka, and Shukhov continue using the rest of the mortar. Shukhov tells Kildigs to bring the trowels and... (full context)
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Tyurin tells Shukhov to hurry to the count, but Shukhov tells him not to wait, to go with... (full context)
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Eventually Senka bails, leaving Shukhov alone at the power station. Shukhov runs to the back of the wall and checks... (full context)
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Shukhov darts toward the count and meets Senka, who had stopped to wait. Senka would rather... (full context)
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The guards begin telling the gangs to line up. While waiting, Shukhov nudges Buynovsky in the ribs and asks him what science says about where the moon... (full context)
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As the guards count again, Shukhov notices that they’d worked so late that none of the men had gathered any firewood.... (full context)
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...are imprisoned as spies, but most of them are just Ex-POW’s who were wrongly accused. Shukhov is one of these men. The crowd begins to fly into a rage. The weather... (full context)
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As the guards recount, Shukhov notices that the back group has four men in it, meaning there will be another... (full context)
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On the walk back to the camp, Shukhov listens to two former naval officers talk about their service. Shukhov ponders the irony of... (full context)
Section 10 (Arrival at the camp to Tsezar’s arrival at the parcel room)
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As the search begins, Shukhov tells Tsezar he will go wait at the parcel room and save his place in... (full context)
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Shukhov steps fearlessly up to be searched, believing he has nothing on him. Out of habit,... (full context)
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Shukhov takes off his mittens and unbuttons his coat, stepping forward more willing than usual in... (full context)
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Shukhov runs to catch up with the rest of the members of his gang who had... (full context)
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After passing through the count, Shukhov hurries off to the parcel room. Tyurin must stay behind to report the day’s work.... (full context)
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Upon entering the parcel room, Shukhov imagines someone coming up to tell him that a parcel has arrived for him. Even... (full context)
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In line, Shukhov overhears some other men saying that they will be put to work on Sunday. The... (full context)
Section 11 (Tsezar’s arrival at the parcel room to the purchase of the tobacco)
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...at the parcel room wearing a new fur hat that had arrived from the outside. Shukhov notes that he must have bribed the guards into allowing him to have it. Tsezar... (full context)
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Shukhov begins walking toward the barracks, being careful to make sure he takes his hat off... (full context)
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...the place is in an uproar. Someone’s bread ration had been stolen during the day. Shukhov hides the piece of metal he’d taken from the worksite and is relieved that the... (full context)
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Upon reaching the mess hall, Shukhov finds a group of men on the front porch. “The Limper”, a disabled Zek who... (full context)
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Shukhov makes his way onto the porch looking for the 104th, knowing that if he missed... (full context)
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As “The Limper” lets Gang 27 into the mess hall, Shukhov sees Pavlo standing near the door. The mob of Zeks is blocking Shukhov from the... (full context)
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Shukhov enters the mess hall and begins looking for space for his squad. He notices that... (full context)
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Shukhov finds Pavlo at the counter. He is happy to see Shukhov has a tray. They... (full context)
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The other men arrive, and Shukhov distributes the bowls. Fetyukov arrives, but leaves quickly to go scrounge for leftovers. He puts... (full context)
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Shukhov takes off his hat and drinks the broth from his first bowl of soup. Then... (full context)
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Shukhov notices a man sitting at another table across from him named U81. His hang had... (full context)
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Having finished his supper, Shukhov goes to visit the Latvian prisoner who has tobacco for sale. The tobacco in the... (full context)
Section 12 (The purchase of the tobacco to Shukhov’s going to bed)
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Shukhov enters Barracks 7 and approaches the man with the tobacco. He is careful not to... (full context)
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As Shukhov waits for the Latvian to fill the container he hears other prisoners talking about “old... (full context)
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Shukhov hurries back to barracks 9 so he doesn't miss Tsezar’s arrival with his parcel. Tsezar... (full context)
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Shukhov climbs onto his bunk hand pulls out the piece of metal, figuring it will take... (full context)
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Just then, Buynovsky returns delighted because Tsezar has given him tea to make for them. Shukhov ignores the men, not wanting to upset himself, but he knows the men need his... (full context)
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As Shukhov waits for the count, a guard called “snub nose” enters the barracks. He tells Tyurin... (full context)
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The barracks commander tells the men to get up and out for the count. Shukhov notes that he is one of the biggest bastards in the camp. He is an... (full context)
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As Shukhov gets his valenki on, notices the contents of Tsezar’s parcel are on his bunk. Shukhov... (full context)
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...inside, happy to finally be free for the night—unless, of course, there is another count. Shukhov is not the first back in, but he watches for anyone messing with Tsezar’s parcel.... (full context)
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Not yet tired, Shukhov makes his bed, noting that it he hadn’t slept on sheets since 1941. He no... (full context)
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Alyoshka hears Shukhov’s prayer and turns to him. He tells Shukhov that he heard his soul begging, and... (full context)
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Shukhov attempts to rebut Alyoshka’s message by telling him about a priest in his village who... (full context)
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Unable to respond, Shukhov stares at the ceiling. He doesn't know any longer whether he wants freedom or not.... (full context)
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Kildigs interrupts saying that it seems like there won’t be another count that night. Shukhov agrees and decides to go to bed, but as soon as he rolls over, the... (full context)
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The count goes smoothly, and Shukhov returns to bed. He hands Tsezar’s parcel back to him. As Alyoshka enters the room... (full context)
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Shukhov goes to bed that night feeling fully content. His day had been a lucky one,... (full context)