Summary and Analysis
Ivan's Code of Survival
The final paragraphs of this short novel are the most memorable ones. After our initial horror at the inhumane conditions of life in a "special" camp, the reader gradually begins to see Ivan's day through the eyes of a man who has become used to much of this horror and, unlike the reader, is no longer angry, or even dejected, about his condition. Such emotions would be a waste of time and would detract from his efforts to survive and, if possible, to improve his lot. Thus, Ivan takes most of the outrages of camp life for granted; he spends his energy trying to cope with unexpected dangers. Finally, even the reader adopts Ivan's stance. If one accepts the everyday camp conditions as natural and unalterable, as Ivan does, then the protagonist has indeed had an "almost happy" day.