Quote 4

“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.”

This call to action by the foreman of Gang 104, Tyurin, in Section 7 shows us the change in Tyurin’s characterization in the novel. While he originally comes across as a fearsome taskmaster, after telling his life story he relates to his men as though they were his equals. Like the inmates, Tyurin has been put in the prison camp unjustly. The men warm up to him after making this discovery. They see him no longer as the law enforcer but now as an older brother. This spirit of camaraderie is one of the surprises of the novel, given all the obstacles that stand in the way of decency and civility in the camp.

This quotation also emphasizes the irony of the idea of home. The “home away from home” that Tyurin refers to is the work site that is far away from the camp. Tyurin does not refer to the outside world as the prisoners’ real home. Instead he refers to the camp as their real home. Family homes have disappeared from everyone’s memories after such a long stint in the camp. Shukhov’s original home has vanished from his view in this way. He rarely thinks of his wife and daughters anymore. Tyurin’s interpretation of the camp as the prisoner’s real home rings true. Psychologically speaking, the camp is home for the prisoners: the inmates know each other well, they get along, they help each other, and they live night and day in one another’s company.