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 whip he used to lash prisoners just to watch them bleed. Volkovoy’s character represents the way in which having power leads to cruelty, oppression, and violence. Volkovoy, however, is not immune to the dangers of camp life. The narrator suggested that he stopped carrying his whip because men were getting their throats slit in the camp while sleeping, and Volkovoy was fearful that he might be next. In this way, Volkovoy’s cruelty can also be seen as an attempt to maintain his power through overt violence and oppressive acts.
The timeline below shows where the character Lieutenant Volkovoy 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)
...the undershirts since the camp commandant issued them. The reason is the camp disciplinary officer, Volkovoy, is doing searches this morning. Volkovoy is feared by the prisoners, the guards, and it... (full context)
Section 3 (Volkovoy’s search to the story of Shukhov leaving home)
...prisoners stole a work vehicle and the collected rations during an escape. But today, since Volkovoy is present, they command the prisoners to lift their jackets and unbutton their shirts to... (full context)
Section 5 (The arrival at the work site to the beginning of work)
...deaf, speaks up, thinking the men are talking about Buynovsky’s bad luck that morning when Volkovoy caught him with extra layers on. He tells Buynovsky that he shouldn’t have shown so... (full context)
Section 12 (The purchase of the tobacco to Shukhov’s going to bed)