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MonkeyNotes-One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich
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RETURN TO THE BARRACKS Summary

When Ivan leaves the infirmary, he walks back to the barracks. He coughs as the chill wind blows through him. He notices that the yard is empty and visualizes the prisoners waiting smugly on their beds in the cold barracks, as the guards sit inside their warm rooms and smoke cigarettes. When he enters the barracks, the prisoners doze on their bunks with their clothes and boots on. The only two people awake are Pavlo, the assistant boss, and Alyosha, the Baptist. Alyosha reads his Bible, while Pavlo writes accounts. When Pavlo sees Ivan, he looks surprised and hands him his ration of bread for the day, which is short as always. Ivan takes the loaf and cuts it into half after licking the sugar from its top. He puts half the loaf under his coat and hides the other half inside his mattress. In preparation for the workday, Ivan next takes out his mittens, footgear, a bit of rope, a piece of rag cloth, and two tapes. Tyurin, the boss of Ivanís gang, then orders the prisoners to come out for roll call. He lets them know that he has succeeded in convincing the officials to allow Gang 104 to stay at its previous work site.


Notes

Each episode further develops the personality of Ivan Denisovich. In this section, Ivan is pictured as a cautious, practical, and resourceful prisoner. When given his bread ration, he carefully splits it in two, taking half of it to eat at the work site and hiding half of it in his mattress to eat later. Even though Alyosha, the Baptist, sees him hiding the bread, Ivan does not worry, for Alyosha is a good, honest man. After safeguarding his ration, Ivan carefully prepares for the workday, collecting all the things he will need to protect him from the cold, including footgear and mittens to keep his extremities warm.

This episode emphasizes the importance of food in the prison camp; without it, a prisoner cannot survive. As a result, Ivan is very careful with his rations. He also realizes that his bread ration is short, because the guards have taken some for themselves in order to stave off their constant hunger. He knows, however, that he can do nothing about it.

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