Nature has always impacted the human condition. Sometimes lives are touched in subtle ways, and at other times, nature's force is more pronounced. It can affect the total wellbeing of a person; mind, body, and soul. People, such as Ivan Denisovich who live in extreme climates know this all too well. In Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the cold is a symbol of the nature of people as a whole and also a symbol of nature's impact on society.
In the prison, the men struggle for survival on a day-to day basis. Not only are they fighting for their lives, they are fighting for their dignity as well. While the camp is trying to take away the prisoner's physical and spiritual individuality, the prisoners are trying to hang on to their own pride . This task becomes very hard when the living conditions of the camp are unbearable. Mattresses do not have sheets; prisoners eat only two hundred grams of bread per meal; and guards force prisoners to undress for body searches at temperatures of forty below zero. This harsh reality is shown at the beginning of the book. When Ivan Denisovich first wakes up, he has a high fever and severe body aches. After his punishment for being late to work, he goes to the mess hall to eat and removes his cap before doing so. This gesture is done as a symbol of a civilized life. He feels that civilized people remove their caps before eating, so he decides to do so. ("Next, he removed his cap from his shaven headhowever cold it was, he wouldn't let himself eat with his cap on."14) This quote proves that the camp is not totally successful in stripping away the prisoners' dignity through the gesture of Shukhov. Hoping to be exempt from work, Shukhov goes to sick bay in order to get his temperature taken. The medical orderly Koyla tells Shukhvov that his temperature is not high enough to excuse him from work (" How can you expect a man who's warm to understand a man who's cold? The cold stung. A murky fog wrapped...
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