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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich | Study Guide

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich | Characters

Character Description
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov Intelligent, hard-working, and trustworthy, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is a 40-year-old prisoner in a Soviet labor camp, unjustly condemned for spying. Read More
Tiurin Trusted squad leader for group 104, Shukhov's group, Tiurin is a man who knows the system and works it for the benefit of the men in his squad. Read More
Fetiukov Selfish, openly hostile, and resentful, Fetiukov is a prisoner in Shukhov's squad whose fawning and whining result in no friends and no respect. Read More
Tsezar A filmmaker before his imprisonment, Tsezar has high status and is respected because he receives two packages of goods a month from his relatives. Read More
Alyosha A devout Baptist, unusual in Russia, Alyosha is a prisoner in squad 104 who calmly accepts what God has given him in the prison camp and welcomes imprisonment as spiritual freedom. Read More
Buinovsky A former navy captain new to the camp and already weakened, Buinovsky is a loyal communist who believes in military ways and codes of behavior. Read More
Der A prisoner elevated to the status of foreman on the site where squad 104 works, Der likes to threaten others and throw his weight around but is, at his core, a coward.
Estonians Bound by nationality, the two Estonian prisoners are inseparable, treating each other like brothers and sharing everything they have. They are generally cooperative in the ways of the camp and do their work.
Gopchik A cunning and clever 16-year-old prisoner, Gopchik looks up to Shukhov, whom he views as a kind of mentor to help him get used to life in the camp. He has not yet learned the ropes, so he still lacks the skills to survive without help from other zeks, but according to the narrator he shows potential for survival.
Stepan Grigorych Fussy and loud-voiced, Stepan Grigorych is the new camp doctor, who invents jobs in and around the infirmary for those who are ill.
Ivan Ivan is the thin guard scheduled to be on duty this day; although he looks mean, he is more compassionate than most of the other guards.
Kilgas Smart, skilled, and resourceful, Kilgas is also a Lett (Latvian), with a good sense of humor, who often is paired with Shukhov on work sites and with whom Shukhov enjoys working. Kilgas gets two packages a month, which he shares with nobody; his better nourishment may account for his better health and humor.
Senka Klevshin A "quiet, luckless" prisoner, deafened in battle during World War II, Senka Klevshin was captured by the Germans and sent to Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp. His detention by the Nazis landed him in a Soviet labor camp for political prisoners on suspicion of treason.
Kuziomin Shukhov's first squad leader, tough, hardened Kuziomin appears in Shukhov's memory as the man who taught him how to survive in a Stalinist labor camp. Kuziomin is mentioned but does not appear in the novella.
The Lett The Lett (Latvian) is a prisoner who has status and importance in the camp because he receives packages containing good and much-coveted tobacco, which he sells for money or trades for other goods or favors.
The Limper Lame, mean, and brutally strong, the Limper is the mess orderly, a high-ranking prisoner in charge of allowing prisoners into the mess hall; he is not reluctant to use his birchwood club to hit rule breakers, especially those weaker than he.
Mess Chief In charge of the mess hall and protected by Volkovoi, the mess chief is a broad-shouldered, energetic prisoner who respects no one and is universally despised and feared.
The Moldavian A prisoner in another squad, the exhausted Moldavian falls asleep on the job and is missing from the count as the squads finish work; his absence causes delays in returning to camp, angering guards and prisoners.
Panteleyev Panteleyev is an informer in squad 104.
Pavlo As deputy squad leader, Pavlo is Tiurin's right-hand man who tries to get the best for the squad. Considerate and even helpful, he risks his own safety to help others.
Priakhov Priakhov is Volkovoi's deputy.
Snubnose The young guard nicknamed Snubnose comes to get Buinovsky for the guardhouse as punishment for wearing extra clothing; he gets Buinovsky despite Tiurin's attempt to distract him.
The Tartar A strict, by-the-book, guard, the Tartar makes Shukhov wash the guardhouse floor as punishment for staying in bed after reveille.
Tikhon Mentioned in an old letter, 84-year-old Tikhon is a recently married new father who lives and works as a carpenter on the collective farm where Shukhov lived and where his wife still lives.
Zakhar Vasilych Mentioned in an old letter, Zakhar Vasilych is the manager of the same collective farm.
Kolya Vdovushkin The doctor's young medical assistant at the dispensary, Kolya Vdovushkin writes poetry at work whenever he can. Not actively unkind, he is usually indifferent to the plight of unwell prisoners.
Lieutenant Volkovoi Impulsive and unpredictable, Volkovoi is the camp security officer who is most deliberately and arbitrarily cruel in his behavior toward the prisoners upon whom he imposes senseless rules. Most prisoners, even those with high status, fear him, for he might lash out at individuals or squads at any time and for any reason. His name aptly means "wolf."
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