One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Directions: Read the passage below and choose the best answer to each question that follows.

It was freezing cold, with a fog that caught your breath. Two large searchlights were crisscrossing over the compound from the watchtowers at the far corners. The lights on the perimeter and the-lights inside the camp were on full force. There were so many of them that they blotted out the stars.

With their felt boots crunching on the snow, prisoners were rushing past on their business-to the latrines, to the supply rooms, to the package room, or to the kitchen to get their groats cooked. Their shoulders were hunched and their coats buttoned up, and they all felt cold, not so much because of the freezing weather as because they knew they’d have to be out in it all day. But the Tartar in his old overcoat with shabby blue tabs walked steadily on and the cold didn’t seem to bother him at all.

They went past the high wooden fence around the punishment block (the stone prison inside the camp), past the barbed-wire fence that guarded the bakery from the prisoners, past the corner of the HQ where a length of frost-covered rail was fastened to a post with heavy wire, and past another post where - in a sheltered spot to keep the readings from being too low-the thermometer hung, caked over with ice. Shukhov gave a hopeful sidelong glance at the milk-white tube. If it went down to forty-two below zero they weren’t supposed to be marched out to work. But today the thermometer wasn’t pushing forty or anything like it.

-Excerpted from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

  1. Where does the story most likely take place?
  • a military academy
  • an army post
  • a prison camp
  • a combat zone
  • a reform school
  1. What is the atmosphere depicted in this passage?
  • violent
  • suspenseful
  • dull
  • hopeful
  • oppressive