Tsezar’s parcel symbolizes the worldly pleasures the men are denied within the gulag. Tsezar is the envy of the men of Gang 104, as the contents of his parcels allow him to assuage his hunger and grant him the ability to attain special privileges by paying off the guards. But even though Tsezar receives help with his physical needs, he struggles to adapt to camp life and develop the skills that allow a Zek to survive successfully in the camp. In fact, his parcel makes him a target in the camp, as shown by his fear of losing the contents during the count. In this way, the parcel depicts the futility of investing oneself in the material world. This idea is furthered upon considering Tsezar’s name. “Tsezar” translates to the name “Caesar” in English, who signifies power and privilege in the Bible, and Jesus famously instructs that his followers should "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's” (Matthew 22:21)—to separate the spiritual from the material, with an emphasis on the importance of the spiritual. Although the Zek’s situation seems as far from “the kingdom of God” as one could possibly go, Alyoshka does find happiness and meaning in the camp by turning away from the material world that Tsezar’s parcel represents, and Shukhov shares this sense of joy after he shares his bread freely with Alyoshka.
Tsezar’s Parcel Quotes in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich quotes below all refer to the symbol of Tsezar’s Parcel. 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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the New American Library edition of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich published in 2008.).
Tsezar’s Parcel Symbol Timeline in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The timeline below shows where the symbol Tsezar’s Parcel 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)
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)
...Kildigs looks at him funny. Kildigs doesn't have to worry about working because he receives parcels that help him survive. Eventually Kildigs gets up because you can’t keep the gang waiting... (full context)
Section 10 (Arrival at the camp to Tsezar’s arrival at the parcel room)
Section 12 (The purchase of the tobacco to Shukhov’s going to bed)