61 pages 2 hours read

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1973

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Part 1, Chapters 1-4Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary: “Arrest”

Writing after his eight-year imprisonment and additional exile, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn outlines the system of forced labor camps in the Soviet Union, commonly referred to as the Gulag. These camps are in a place Solzhenitsyn calls the “clandestine Archipelago” (3) and are far removed from most towns and villages. For inmates such as Solzhenitsyn, the journey to the Archipelago began with arrest. As Solzhenitsyn looks back on what Russian society was like at the time of his own relatively recent arrest a little over a decade prior, he recalls vividly that people were unexpectedly arrested and, though they had hardly in their lives thought about the Gulag, they were sent to the remote labor camps. Police thoroughly searched the person’s home for any incriminating evidence, and the person’s loved ones were told nothing about the Gulag.

The people conducting the arrests—“those who take” (6)—performed their duties dispassionately and used many methods, depending on the severity of the accusations and the history of the person being arrested. The authorities arrested people at home, at work, on the street, from a hospital—wherever would be easiest for the undercover security agents, even outside of Russia.