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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is highly realistic. Because Alexander Solzhenitsyn endured a prison labor camp in Siberia, he is able to effectively give realistic details of camp life and the mindset of his protagonist; but he does not give excessive descriptions. His portraits of the prisoners and the struggles that they endure are short and vivid. Although it is clear that the author approves of and believes in Ivan Denisovich, he does not make him perfect, for that would be unrealistic. Instead, Ivan is a realistic prisoner, who is seen rudely pushing through the crowded mess hall and breaking the prison rules.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is also allegorical. Ivanís life in the prison camp is a reflection of the life of the people of Russia living within the dark confines of the Soviet regime. Under the authoritarian rule of Stalin, no one could breathe the air of freedom or live without fear. Life for all the people was difficult and insecure. Food shortages, crime, and corruption were widespread. The common man of Russia was like a prisoner in his own country.