Writers use many subtle things to develop many themes of their novels. The relationships a person has with individuals around him affects the way other people think about him. In the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn uses human relationships to ignite certain emotions within the reader towards certain characters. These emotions occur each time the character appears and this is used by the reader to judge the character by the types of relationships he has.
By the end of the book, these feelings have developed and support the theme of existentialism in the novel. Human relationships between the prisoners and the people ‘outside’ give the reader automatic first impressions of the characters in the book. Mainly, the packages sent in by these people ‘outside’ show that the prisoners have someone who cares for them. Packages are seen as a luxury item by the prisoners and one of the main things mentioned during character introductions is whether the characters receive packages or not.
This one fact changes the way the reader views the character. If the prisoner receives no packages from home, the reader feels pity for the characters and feels the isolation that these camps are designed to maintain. On the other hand, if the prisoners do receive regular packages, they are viewed with the same eye as privileged individuals of high society. This is important to keep the overall mood of the novel constant because any sudden surprises which cause any sort of excitement may ruin the bleak atmosphere of the novel.
Sudden surprises include a character doing something which may be considered foolish in the camp. One example of this is when Caesar says to Shukov, “You keep it, Ivan Denisovich” (Solzhenitsyn, 179) when Shukov brings him his bread. The foolish notion of giving away food is immediately dissipated in the mind of the reader when Caesar’s package is cleverly intertwined in to the text as “fancy stuff” (Solzhenitsyn, 179) a few lines later. Another example of the reader’s impression being manipulated is Fetyukov.
By the time Shukov mentions that Fetyukov “had three children ‘outside’ but they’d all disowned him when he was arrested… so there was no one to send him things” (Solzhenitsyn, 56), Fetyukov’s actions have created the impression of a runt with no pride who only wishes to pass his sentence with as much comfort as possible. However, when the sentence is mentioned, understanding floods the reader’s mind and the reader is forced to go back and think about what Fetyukov must be thinking when he scavenges things from the prisoners and the reader considers it justified for Fetyukov to act this way.