One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Solzhenitsyn call the protagonist by the name “Ivan Denisovich” in the title but by the name “Shukhov” almost everywhere else in the narrative?
  2. In what ways does the camp attempt to eliminate individual identity?
  3. In what ways do the inmates attempt to hold on to their individual identities?
  4. Why did the author choose to write a work of fiction in order to share his Gulag experience with an audience? Why not nonfiction?
  5. Why does Solzhenitsyn describe only a single day of Shukhov’s life?
  6. Why does the author show a day in which the main character feels slightly less miserable than others?
  7. The narrator asks, “Can a man who’s warm understand one who is freezing?” What are the larger implications of such a question as it applies to our lives? What are some of the possible answers to this question? How do you respond to this question?

Content last updated: April 30, 2006

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