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. They share everything, speak to one another in their native tongue, and even sleep beside one another. These men survive the brutal conditions of the camp by depending on one another, offering a contrast to the “Every man for himself” atmosphere of the Gulag, and showing an alternative means to survive. Likewise, their connection through their national background shows that although the camp is designed to strip one’s identity, bonds still form based upon past identifications.
The timeline below shows where the character The Two Estonians appears in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 5 (The arrival at the work site to the beginning of work)
Section 7 (The news of the murdered stoop pigeons to Tyurin’s story)
Section 8 (Tyurin’s story to the end of the work day)
Section 12 (The purchase of the tobacco to Shukhov’s going to bed)
...his knife to prepare their food, which entitles him to a cut. Shukhov repays the Estonians for the cigarette they’d given him earlier, but waits to roll another, knowing the count... (full context)