There is a larger lesson here, because the book encompasses not just the lives of prisoners in a Soviet prison camp, but every one of us. Shukhov squeezes everything he can out of a mouthful of soup or a bite of bread…So frozen that he can’t even feel his feet, he trowels cement and lays a cinder block wall with care and patience…Shukhov takes pride in his work. In fact, even though he is starving, he can barely tear himself away at the end of the long day to go eat. He cares about his work and in that way he remains a man. Isn’t this kind of pride and gratitude and ironic detachment valuable for all people?