Journey into the Whirlwind: A True Story of an Ordinary Communist Woman Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Summary of the Book

The book under consideration Journey into the Whirlwind was written by Eugenia Ginzburg in 1967. The book is a true story of a woman who had to endure a lot of sorrows and horrible tortures during her imprisonment. She was and remained a faithful Communist even though she saw the different side of the Russian Communist society.

In her late twenties, she was ready “to die for the Party – not once but three times” if she had been told to do so (Ginzburg 3). The author expresses her opinion on the most important issues in the book. She tells the story and reveals her viewpoints on such things as life, death, friendship, compassion.

The book is written in first person singular narrative, which makes it very personal. The story starts with a phone call that awakens the woman. She as well as other members of the Party is informed about Kirov’s death. Soon after, many members of the Party are accused of anti-revolutionary activities. The main character, Eugenia, is also accused of being involved in such actions as she was an old friend of Professor Elvov who had been arrested earlier.

Eugenia is sent to prison where she is tortured psychologically as she is not allowed to sleep or she is not given any food. She is sent to another prison where she learns a lot about different people and their stories. Finally, she hears her sentence, which is penal servitude. She accepts the sentence with certain joy, “Penal servitude – what a bliss!” (Ginzburg 175). She is sent to Siberia where she completes different jobs.

She is often at the death’s doors, but she manages to stay alive “to spite them” as she is “consumed by the desire to survive the tragedy” (Ginzburg 175). She even has to fall trees in inhumane conditions, but she does not give up. Eventually, she is assisted and she starts working in a hospital. In 1955, she is released and she expresses her desire to let people of Soviet Union as well as the entire world know about her experiences.

The Will to Survive

The will to survive can be regarded as one of the most important issues revealed in the novel. The author expresses her own opinion on this matter. She claims that she was determined to live through all the tortures just “to spite them” (Ginzburg 175). The main character of the book witnessed ordeals of many people.

She also saw really optimistic inmates. Thus, one of her first fellow victims was the girl called Lyama, who could fall asleep “with a happy smile on her face” (Ginzburg 59). This young woman became a close friend who taught Eugenia to survive, who comforted the wretched woman and guided her.

In my opinion, the will to survive is one of the most important features every human has. This is something related to hope. People live until they can hope. If human beings had not had the will to survive, we would have ceased to exist long time ago.

Eugenia’s story is another example of the power of the desire to live. She manages to pull through and be alive in spite of all odds. This desire helps her reunite with her family. She also has the opportunity to tell her story to millions, which is very important. The desire to live made it possible for people to find out about the different side of the Soviet Union.

The Communist Party

One of central topics of the novel is also loyalty. The woman argues that she has never stopped believing in the rightfulness of the decisions made by the party. In spite of her lasting imprisonment and all ordeals she had to endure, she remains loyal to the party. She says, “I had not the shadow of a doubt of the rightness of the Party line” (Ginzburg 3). She has believed in the ideas perpetuated and never doubted that the country was a great place to live in.

As for me, I would never continue believing in the country where people are put behind the bars without any meaningful reason. I would never believe in the country where people are tortured and made to confess in something they did not do. For me, it is clear that such a country is corrupted and the ideology of this country is erroneous. I am surprised at Eugenia’s being so faithful to the country where all those horrible things happened.


To sum up, the book in question reveals a story of a woman who had to endure a great ordeal for sins she had not committed. This is also a story of the country where thousands and even millions of people had to suffer for no reason. The novel contains memories of the woman who had the strength to survive and let millions know about the wrongdoings of Stalin’s regime.

It is possible to note that there are two major ideas revealed in the book. These are Eugenia’s attitude towards life and her loyalty to the Party. The woman had a strong desire to survive and this will helped her endure all her ordeals. Surprisingly, in spite of all horrible experiences, the woman remained faithful to the party. It is difficult to understand this loyalty but one can’t help admiring the brave woman who never changed her ideals no matter what.

Works Cited

Ginzburg, Eugenia. Journey into the Whirlwind. New York: Mariner Books, 2002. Print.

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