My newest ep is based on the terse and brutal writing of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
Like all great novels, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich works on many levels from the base level of being a realistic and gritty account of life in a Soviet prison camp under Stalin and from there we can see the higher levels of the novel as a depiction of the struggles of life. What must Ivan do in order to survive and make it out of his ten-year sentence for spying?
Building on this Solzhenitsyn asks us to de we need religious faith in order to survive? He tells us that the Baptists always seem to find a way through the hardships of life in the frozen steppe and can always be seen to be happier than other prisoners. Should we use this as a way to preserve our existence, or is just another human foible that breeds false hope? Hope though is a major part of the novel, everyone hopes for a better tomorrow.
As well as hope, the prisoners must follow certain rules if they want to survive and make it through prison life. Rules, patterns, and regulations are the formula for keeping your dignity, as without your dignity you are just a husk of a person. Fetiukov is repeatedly used throughout the novel to show us someone who has thrown away their dignity and Denisovich repeatedly tells us of his revulsion for this man with no dignity.
Fetiukov is a base person and will do anything for a little extra, mostly beg though, this disappoints Ivan who will rely on his skills and resourcefulness to make sure he can get extra. He has a dignity in himself and relies only upon himself and not on the others. He knows his place and will neither lower or attempt to raise himself and can be seen as being deferential to others he deems worthy, such as Y-81 or Tiurin.
In order to survive Ivan needs to keep his dignity and hope, as well as never let his mind wander from the single thought of his own survival. He points out to us Caesar, who can only survive because he is sent extra food by his family or the Captain, a man who needs to give up the Soviet ideals and face the reality of prison in order to survive. The Captain is being sent to solitary confinement, this should be seen as a punishment for him but for Ivan he hopes this will be the time that the Captain needs to give up on his lofty ideals and think about survival. Even in times of pain, there is hope.
Ivan contains all the knowledge to survive in prison and instead of faith in religion, he has a faith in himself and it is this faith that will surely save him. He works to better himself and his fellow citizens in the 104th, he will not work for the authorities, even if it seems he does.
This is what I have tried to channel in this ep, a relentless, regimented slog with touches of hope and saviour.