The subtle undercurrent throughout the book, the prisoners

The drive to retain one’s identity and not succumb to the animalistic habits that is brought out in prisoners often remains the subtle undercurrent throughout the book, the prisoners who are under totalitarian oppression and repression of ideals and freedom, enhance their individuality through their possessions. The author, has used inanimate objects to parallel against the oppressive nature of the novella. The inanimate objects be it a spoon or a cigar highlight the struggle for survival and offers a new insight into a character’s mind thus simultaneously enhancing their individuality and serves as a tool for perseverance. Ivan the protagonist of the novel has been characterised as someone of high morals, meticulous and a principled man. He like few of the member of Gang 104 have not succumbed to the brutal conditions of the prison and switched off their humanity, he preservers to retain it. One such tool for perseverance perhaps the most pivotal would be his spoon,  which he carved out of an aluminium wire (pg12) himself. This spoon symbolises his humanity and marks him as  an autonomous individual, this being the one thing he ‘owns’.  The spoon acts as a memorial for the time he has spent as a prisoner and just like the hat he removes before eating, serves the purpose of a sense of self and a past in the camp, instead of just existing from day to day as a puppet for the camp officials. The spoon symbolises  Ivan’s unflinching principles and protest against the dehumanisation that is embarked in these prisons. It’s a common practice in the gulag that everything including bowls, living quarter are communal, so shukhov’s spoon enhances his individuality. The camp is designed to strip of prisoner’s identities, thus Zeks’s in a way sense move inwards to maintain their identities and retain their humanity. The idea of shukhov hiding his spoon in his boots alludes to the fact that Shukhov’s real identity is hidden by his external appearances and circumstances, but still remains a part of him. Most of Shukhov’s principles are aligned to the ritual of eating like how he does not eat the eye of the fish, never licks the bowl and takes off his hat before eating, all cater under Shukhov’s sustained sense of personal identity, thus the spoon represents in a deeper sense a way to feed his inner identity and thus


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