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MonkeyNotes-One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich
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Tyurin tells Ivan that he is to be paired with Senka, the deaf prisoner, for the afternoon. Ivan does not mind, for he knows Senka is a good worker. Ivan plans the lay out of the bricks, while Senka levels the site. When the preparations are finished, Ivan works on the outside wall of bricks, and Senka works on the inside wall. Both men are very careful to use the correct amount of mortar and to make certain that their bricks are straight and level. While he is working, Ivan is very happy. He takes pride in the job he is doing and feels almost like he is his own boss. Tyurin also praises the speed and accuracy of his work.

While the prisoners are busily laying bricks, Der, the construction foreman, comes into the room where the prisoners are working in order to repair a broken hoist. When he notices the roofing felt on the windows, he accuses Tyurin of stealing the felt and threatens to turn him into the authorities. The prisoners stop working to listen to the confrontation. Tyurin threatens to kill Der if he says a word, and his men support his threats, causing Der to back down. After the foreman leaves, Ivan and Senka hastily return to work and are the last ones to leave the job site. When they join the other prisoners, they are cursed for being late and holding them up. The prisoners also curse a Moldavian from another gang; he has fallen asleep at the job and has to be found by the guards, causing a further delay in the return to the camp.


Finally, the prisoners are told to walk towards their barracks. Since they are very tired and hungry, they move at a slow pace in spite of the threats of the guards; however, when the prisoners spy men coming from the tool factory, they pick up their pace. They want to get back to camp before them to make sure that they will not be delayed at the entrance and to guarantee that their will be plenty of rations for them at dinner. Even though they beat the tool workers, the prisoners are stopped at the entrance for another search for unauthorized things. At the news of the search, Ivan panics. He remembers the piece of metal he has put in his pocket. If the guards find it, he will probably be sent to solitary confinement. He hides the piece inside his mitten and hopes the guards will not check there. Fortunately, the search is ended before the guards check the mitten, and Ivan avoids detection and punishment. It feels he has been very lucky on this day.

Inside the camp, Ivan offers to go to the package room for Caesar to hold a place for him in line. He thinks the favor will be rewarded by Caesar. Ivanís assumption is correct, for Caesar tells him he can have his dinner ration. Ivan is pleased that he has had so much food on this day. As he eats his double dinner portion, Ivan watches, Y-81, the oldest prisoner in camp. Ivan judges him to be a distinguished man with impeccable manners. In spite of the hardships of many years in the labor camp, Y-81 still holds himself straight and appears healthy. Ivan promises to be the same way when he is old. He hopes, however, that he will not have the same fate as Y-81. When it is time for him to be released, more time is always tacked on to his sentence. Ivan hopes that he will be released in two years, when his ten-year sentence is served.

After dinner Ivan and the other prisoners return to their barracks and settle into their bunks. Just as they are getting comfortable, the guards call a night check. No one wants to go out, least of all Caesar, who is going through his new package. Ivan says he will go out for roll call and then come in and guard Caesarís package while he goes out. Since Caesar trusts Ivan, he agrees to the plan. In return, he rewards Ivan with candy, sausage, and sugar cubes from his package. Ivan cannot believe his good fortune.

As he turns in for the night, Ivan is thankful that is day has gone so well. Alyosha suggests that he offer a prayer to God for his good fortune, but Ivan refuses, for he does not believe in ritual. As he closes his eyes, one day in the life of Ivan Denisovich comes to an end.

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