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THE BRICKLAYING SESSION Summary
When Tyurin gives the signal for the prisoners to return to work, Ivan collects his tools and prepares to lay bricks. Unexpectedly, Tyurin sends Senka to work with Ivan. Ivan directs the deaf man to clear the ice from the site as he plans the lay out of the bricks. When the bricks arrive, Ivan instructs Senka to work on the inner layer of bricks, while he works on the outer layer. Both men place the mortar on the bricks, working quickly and carefully. As he works, Ivan is content. For the moment, he feels that he is his own boss and is proud of the job he is doing. Running out of bricks, Ivan orders some more. The officials are pleased with the progress he has made and judge his brick wall to be straight and perfectly built. In contrast to Ivan, Fetyukov does his work shabbily and earns the wrath of his partner, the Captain. Overhearing the conflict, Tyurin sends Alyosha, a hard worker, to help the Captain. The brick laying, however, is temporarily interrupted by the arrival of Der, the construction foreman. He has come to check the status of the broken hoist.
In this section, Solzhenitsyn carefully describes the prisoners at work. Ivan takes great pride in what he does, putting his whole heart into the job and making sure he does not waste time or materials. First he assesses his work; he next levels the ground and then lays the bricks in a perfect pattern, with just the right amount of mortar to keep the wall strong and neat. His work is almost like a religion for him; he is as devoted to it as Alyosha is to the Bible. As a result of his careful attention, Ivan constructs a perfectly straight wall, which earns him praise. As expected, Fetyukov tries to do the least amount possible. When he delays carrying the bricks as assigned, he is criticized and given a less responsible job.
Der, the construction foreman, is a proud and arrogant official. Although he has previously been a prisoner himself, he is totally unsympathetic to the plight of the prisoners; he delights in giving them demanding orders.