One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: A Novel
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, H. T. Willetts
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here on the wall for me.” The captain would have obliged, only he hadn’t the strength. Wasn’t used to it. But Alyoshka said: “Right, then, Ivan Denisovich. Just show me where you want them.” Never says no, that Alyoshka, whatever you ask him to do. If everybody in the world was like him, I’d be the same. Help anybody who asked me. Why not? They’ve got the right idea, that lot. The clanging of the hammer on the rail carried across the whole site as far as the Power Station. Knocking-off time.
butter they’d smear on their bread, the sugar they’d sweeten their tea with, Shukhov’s mind ran on one single desire—that he and his gang would get into the mess hut in time to eat their skilly hot. Cold, it wasn’t worth half as much. He reckoned that if Tsezar hadn’t found his name on the list he’d have been back in the hut washing himself long ago. If his name was there, he’d be collecting sacks, plastic mugs, and wrapping paper. That was why Shukhov had promised to wait ten minutes. Standing
them: “If you two deadbeats don’t shut up, I’ll do it for you.” The boot hit a post with a thud, and the old men fell silent. The deputy foreman of the gang next to them gave a low growl. “Vasily Fyodorich! Those rats in the food store have really screwed us this time. It was four nine-hundreds, now it’s only three. Who’s got to go short?” He said it quietly, but the whole gang heard and held its breath. Somebody would find a slice missing that evening. Shukhov just lay there on the
was—were their grandparents. War veterans sat ramrod straight on the subway, red-and-gold medals shining on their worn suitcoats. Babushki sold crabsticks and cigarettes in long receiving lines outside the Metro even in the midst of blizzards. Old men, knuckles and forearms blurred with prison tattoos, hunched over stand-up tables outside liquor kiosks on Friday afternoons. Women past retirement age sat guard over the nation’s jewels, its museums and theaters. (I once saw a group of them boot an
ten minutes now? We aren’t that stupid, you know. You croak today—I’ll wait till tomorrow! Any other time, Shukhov would have propped himself up against the wall with the rest. But now he strode by, sneering. “What are you afraid of, never seen a Siberian frost before? The wolves are out sunbathing—come and try it! Give us a light, old man!” He lit up just inside the door and went out on the porch. “Wolf’s sunshine” was what they jokingly called the moonlight where Shukhov came from. The moon