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Tyurin, a foreman at the labor camp, is tough
and heroic. Shukhov notes that Tyurin does not even squint when
the fierce icy Siberian wind blows straight into his face. At the
beginning of the novel, Tyurin is a distant and terrifying authority
figure, associated with the dread of punishment. But he transforms
into a more sympathetic character when, at the Power Station, he
narrates his life history. Tyurin’s shift from an imposing authoritarian
to an accessible comrade shows the humanity hidden deep within even
the fiercest Soviet law enforcers.
Tyurin’s character shows the camp’s lack of
justice since, like everyone else in the camp, he has been thrown
into prison without deserving this fate. Tyurin is a prisoner only
because his father belonged to the kulak, or rich
peasant, class that Stalin has vowed to exterminate. Like almost
everyone else in the camp, Tyurin is an essentially good person
unfairly condemned to a life of misery. Tyurin’s misery is compounded
by the fact that he is not part of a social group in the camp. His
experience shows us that the life of a camp officer may be even
worse than that of a common prisoner. Without the community or camaraderie
of the prisoners, Tyurin is treated as a representative of the state
and feared as a Soviet authority, even though he is still a prison inmate
like the others.
Ace your assignments with our guide to One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich!