61 pages 2 hours read

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1973

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Part 5, Chapters 7-12Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 5, Chapter 7 Summary: “The White Kitten (Georgi Tenno’s Tale)”

Solzhenitsyn switches the narrative to the perspective of Georgi Tenno, recounting Tenno’s escape attempt. The attempt was initially successful, and Tenno and a fellow inmate spent almost a month on the run from the authorities. They scrounged for food and stole to survive. However, they were eventually captured and given new, longer sentences. Tenno was eventually released from the Gulag, but later died of cancer.

Part 5, Chapter 8 Summary: “Escapes—Morale and Mechanics”

The Gulag’s security forces considered escape attempts to be “only natural, a manifestation of the waste which is unavoidable in any overextended economic enterprise” (379). Such escape attempts, expressly forbidden, were “rougher, grimmer, more ruthless, more desperate, and therefore more glorious” (380). Solzhenitsyn tells the story of two men who escaped from such a camp but were captured by local villagers, angry at the men’s attempts to live nearby. Once the villagers discovered that the men were escapees from the nearby camp, however, their anger softened. If the escapees had simply revealed themselves rather than try to steal, they were told, they would have received all the help they needed. The men were sent back to the camp.