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MonkeyNotes-One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich
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PLOT (Structure)

The plot of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is simple as it traces the life of Ivan Shukhov in a prison camp from early morning until late at night. For the most part, it is told in straight chronological order with only a few flashbacks. It also follows the classic pattern of plot development. The first section is introductory, giving the setting and introducing the main characters. The rising action begins when the Thin Tartar comes to get Ivan out of bed and threatens severe punishment. It becomes clear that Ivanís life in the labor camp is very difficult, and most of the novel is spent in giving examples of the hardships he must endure. The climax occurs after Ivan has hidden a piece of metal in his coat and then discovers that the guards are going to do a physical check of each prisoner. A panicky Ivan hides the metal piece in his glove and barely escapes detection. The falling action occurs in the evening, as the events of the day unwind. The conclusion comes in bed when Ivan reflects on the day and judges it to be a good one, filled with some unexpected pleasures.


The plot of the short novel is tightly unified by time, place, and character. The entire book takes place in less than one day, interrupted by only a few flashbacks to the pasts of Ivan and other prisoners. Except for the journey back and forth to the work site of the power plant, the entire novel takes place within the Siberian labor camp, mostly in the mess hall, the barracks, and the infirmary. Ivan, the protagonist, remains the key character throughout the book, and only a few minor characters are developed.

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