Freedom Of Thought In Solzhenitsyn's One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich

610 words - 2 pages

There are many definitions of the term "freedom." Some will say that to be free one must be allowed to do as one pleases in terms of one's physical body, while others will say that one must only be able to think to be truly free. Yet another group will argue that both aspects must be present for true freedom to exist.

In many of his books, but specifically One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn deals with the idea that the mind is not truly free. He believed that since there is an inherent desire for approval within the human race, any thoughts that agree with the values of society cannot be deemed free thinking since the thinker could simply be searching for approval. Some critics believe that "this implies a double standard on freedom of thought," and that "freedom is inherent in the very process of thought" (Fink 1).

Solzhenitsyn believed that it was nearly impossible to have truly free thoughts under the prison camp conditions described in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, or in any situation where there is an authoritarian ruler. In a prison camp, every bit of one's being is devoted to survival. All thoughts are directed by the routine of life and what the ruling group tells the prisoners to think. Because religion is frowned upon by the rulers, many of the convicts "give it up when they've been inside a bit" (Solzhenitsyn 13). The prisoners follow the rules set forth without asking questions, without any control over their own lives, and often without any hope. The fact that no one openly questions the Soviet system in the camp emphasizes Solzhenitsyn's belief that no free thinking could exist under those conditions, and that all thoughts are merely for the purpose of...

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