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Death of Ivan Ilych

Peter Ivanovich (known from now on as PI) was Ivan’s dearest friend. PI and Ivan have known each other all their lives yet at Ivan’s funeral PI shows no deep remorse. All that PI really thinks about is the vacancy that Ivan has left at work. He like other people, thinks that relationships are just about achieving ones own agenda. And such loving and compassionate relationships do not exist. Another situation that PI has is that after his selfish like behavior he is characterized by a desire to avoid the unpleasant.

This is shown when PI skirts the topic of Ivan’s death and “drags his feet” when it comes time to attend the funeral. He has a problem with confronting the aspect of his own mortality. PI never quite makes the transition to the true understanding of the nature of life that Ivan had made and Gerasim as well. Even though upon leaving Ivan’s funeral PI evokes the observation that it is God’s will that everybody dies someday. His receptivity and consciousness make him stand out amongst society.

If one looks at PI’s last name of Ivanovich; which means son of Ivan, this seems to hint that one day PI will too one day see the light. Gerasim was the butler’s assistant. Unlike any of the other characters in the story has a REAL sense of compassion and empathy towards others especially Ivan during his last weeks. Since Gerasim has the well-being of others ahead of his own he is able to connect with people on a more personal scale, which breaks down barriers. With stating this Gerasim is the only character in this story that is able to confront death with equanimity and courage.

Gerasim again is the only character in this story that accepts that dirt, death and illness are all parts of life’s grand journey. At the end of Ivan’s life it is Gerasim that is the one that helps with Ivan’s excretions and helps to put Ivan’s feet up at night, he sees by doing these duties for Ivan that he is helping a slowly dying man. Gerasim is the only character in this story that “totally” helps Ivan reach spiritual growth. The nights when Gerasim would hold Ivan’s legs, was a time when Ivan “bridged the gap” between the physical and spiritual world.

While supporting Ivan’s legs, Ivan looks into Gerasim’s face and is able to realize the errors that he has done in the past. Gerasim exemplifies the right way to live; his contact with Ivan in his final days eases the man along the road to spiritual health. Proskovya Fedorovna (known from know on as PF) was Ivan’s wife. To characterize PF throughout this whole story is to look at what she says in response to PI at the funeral of Ivan. “He suffered terribly the last few days. ” “Did he? ” “Oh, terribly! He screamed unceasingly, not for minutes but for hours.

For the last three days he screamed incessantly. It was unendurable. I cannot understand how I bore it; you could hear him three rooms off. Oh, what I have suffered! ” [p. 99] This conversation that she had with PI says it all about her character in the story. She was very selfish. Essentially she does not give a damn about Ivan when he is dyeing. PF wants rid of him; but she is afraid (extremely) that then pension that he is going to leave her when he dies will be inadequate. PF hinders Ivan’s spiritual growth in everyway possible. She is one sided and only lives for herself and not for others.

She does not except her own mortality. In the end of Ivan’s life she became more of a hindrance to him. So my conclusion is that she hindered Ivan’s spiritual growth. Vasya (also known as Vladimir Ivanich) was Ivan’s son. He was the youngest member of Ivan’s household. Vasya was a quiet and sensitive boy. He was still young enough that he was not yet corrupted by the social world of his parents. Vasya is the only other person besides Gerasim that is more than capable of forming bonds with other people, and who truly understands and accepts Ivan and his condition.

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