Skip over navigation

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Section 7

Section 6

Section 7, page 2

page 1 of 2
From the start of Tyurin’s story to the foreman’s check

The foreman of the gang, Tyurin, tells his tale of being discharged from the army, despite a commendable performance, for being the son of a kulak, or rich peasant. The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin swore to eliminate this class in Russia. Tyurin was told the authorities had been after him for two years. When Tyurin was discharged, the Soviet army gave him a last meal, then left him stranded at a remote outpost with neither rations to get by on nor a travel pass with which to go anywhere. At this point in Tyurin’s story, Shukhov begs his Estonian friend for a cigarette. The friend gives him just enough tobacco for one cigarette, which Shukhov puffs on, feeling immediately dizzy.

Tyurin’s tale continues. Stranded, Tyurin hocked his belongings and bought bread under the table. He managed to sneak onto a train, hiding among some students who protected him. When he got home he found his family under siege. As a last hope for his younger brother, Tyurin gave him away to a gang of roughnecks, hoping that a life of crime would be good for him. Tyurin says he never saw his brother again, adding that the Power Station is his new home, as well as that of the whole gang.

“Come on, boys, don’t let it get you down! It’s only a Power Station, but we’ll make it a home away from home.”

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Shukhov reminds the men that they should apply the mortar before it gets dark. The men wonder who should be involved; four men are needed. Thinking a while, Tyurin agrees to be the fourth man on the mortar team. Pavlo jumps up, eager for work. The narrator comments that love for one’s foreman can be a great motivator. The men must chip away the ice on the walls before applying mortar. Shukhov sets to work with total concentration, getting to know “every inch of that wall as if he owned it.” Shukhov never makes mistakes, even though he works quickly.

A business overseer named Der chastises Tyurin for the tar paper in the windows. He warns Tyurin that the tarpaper could mean another sentence for him. Shukhov feels bad for Tyurin. Meanwhile Gang 104 continues to work furiously, even though Gang 82 is quitting. Alyoshka politely and efficiently delivers more cinder blocks; Shukhov reflects that he wishes all the men could be as helpful as Alyoshka. Buynovsky hauls in another load of blocks, and Shukhov compares him to a horse he once owned, who survived under Shukhov’s loving care but died soon after the collective farm took possession of him.

The sun has set. Tyurin inspects the work, pleased with the gang’s achievements in half a day of labor. Tyurin tells Shukhov to throw away the rest of the mortar and return to camp. Shukhov, addressing Tyurin in a spirit of equality as “foreman” rather than by his full name, tells him to go back without him. Senka, another member of Gang 104, and Shukhov continue laying blocks after the quitting signal. Senka urges Shukhov to stop, but Shukhov realizes he must hide the trowel, and tells Senka to go on ahead. When he has finished, Shukhov races to catch up. The guards are gathered, ready for the count.

Shukhov asks Buynovsky where the moon goes when it wanes. Buynovsky gives a scientific explanation that Shukhov rejects, asserting that the moon is not hidden each night but destroyed, and that God breaks it up to make stars. Meanwhile the guards note that a prisoner is missing. Tyurin worries that one of Gang 104 was left behind. The gang stays behind for a recount. Finally it is announced that all members of Gang 104 are present.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us