61 pages 2 hours read

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1973

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Part 6, Chapters 1-7

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 6, Chapter 1 Summary: “Exile in the First Years of Freedom”

As well as prisons, Russia has a long and complicated history of using retributive exile. Solzhenitsyn delves into the historical precedent of exile, both in Tsarist Russia and after the Russian Revolution. In Solzhenitsyn’s view, the Bolsheviks’ use of exile indicated they lacked the strength to “eradicate all the unwanted at once” (423). The Soviet system of exile differed from the Tsarist system: Under the Tsar, those exiled received a monetary allowance; under the Soviets, exile involved forced labor. Solzhenitsyn believes that the Soviet exile system was just a doctored capital punishment.

Part 6, Chapter 2 Summary: “The Peasant Plague”

Solzhenitsyn discusses the purges and famines which killed millions in the Soviet Union. He laments the widespread ignorance of these events and believes that they have actively been erased from history. The attack against the Russian peasants began, according to Solzhenitsyn’s research, in the 1920s. The original aim was to erase certain classes of Russian society which were antithetical to the prevailing ideology. Solzhenitsyn provides examples of successful working- and middle-class people who were targeted during this classist purge, whose lives were ruined or ended by the Soviet government. Family farms and houses were taken into national ownership in what Solzhenitsyn describes as a second