In furnace, everyone is on their own. Protection from others and asserting dominance is key when locked up with hundreds of cold blooded killers. The shank is a weapon created from spoons in furnace used as a murder weapon and for protection against all. When you're on your own there's only one thing to do, make a shank.
One quote stood out most when said by the warden, "Below earth is hell, and below hell is Furnace. Furnace is the most brutal, horrifying place to be on earth. Some don't consider it as part of earth or hell, but far worse.
book summary https://momreadsteen.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/lockdown-escape-from-furnace-by-alexander-gordon-smith-2010-farrrar-straus-giroux-isbn-978-0-312-61193-4/
Predicting what will happen next is the most horrifying part of this thrilling read. From creatures wearing gas masks coming to take inmates to gang members getting eaten alive by mutant dogs, you'll never have a clue of what will happen next.
What's the one thing all the prisoners keep with them for protection? As you learned earlier, it's the shank. Most prisoners will keep this hidden under their bed by night and in a tight grip of their fist by day. Alex in particular would keep it under his bed because he has the bottom bunk. The only question is, will he have to use it?