Dying is not a peaceful process. Ivan Ilyich’s mind is full of anguish and despair. His most meaningful interactions, during the last few days of his life, are with the servants. His wife sleeps in their bedroom. There is a basic incompatibility in this marriage, and after reading Tolstoy’s short story self thinks there is nothing more awful than being sick when one is surrounded by an indifferent family.
About the wife:
“Everything she did for him she did only for herself, and she said to him that she was doing for herself that which she was in fact doing for herself, as if it was such an incredible thing that he woud have to handle it inversely.”
“His daughter comes in to see him, just before she, her mother, and her fiancée leave for the theatre. She comes “all dressed up . . . Strong, healthy, obviously in love, and indignant at the illness, suffering, and death that interfered with her happiness.”
Ivan Ilyich is afraid to be alone.
The servant, Pyotr, has left him to get some tea.
“Ivan Ilyich, left alone, moaned not so much from pain, terrible though it was, as from anguish.”
Ivan Ilyich wishes that the process of dying could end sooner. But in the next moment:
“No, no. Anything’s better than death!”
How in the world can self get past the death of Ivan Ilyich?
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.