The Death of Ivan Ilych
by Leo Tolstoy
The Death of Ivan Ilych Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Alymer Maude's translation.
Praskovya Fedorovna's attitude to Ivan Ilych's illness, as she expressed it both to others and to him, was that it was his own fault and was another of the annoyances he caused her. Ivan Ilych felt that this opinion escaped her involuntarily – but that did not make it easier for him. (4.22)
The tables are turned. Now Ivan is the one suffering, and Praskovya Fedorovna is the one who doesn't show him any sympathy. She looks at him as unreasonable for not following doctor's orders. This might mirror how Ivan thought she was unreasonable for demanding his attention. In each case, the one refuses to take the other seriously. The reversal will become even more complete once Ivan is the one homebound (just as his wife was homebound when she was pregnant).
This meant calling in the famous specialist, regardless of expense. He smiled malignantly and said "No." She remained a little longer and then went up to him and kissed his forehead.
While she was kissing him he hated her from the bottom of his soul and with difficulty refrained from pushing her away. (5.31-32)
What do you make of Praskovya Fedorovna's kiss? Is there anything genuine about it, or is it just done for show? The narrator gives us no clues. All we know is that it feels false to Ivan and he hates her for it. He can't even take a simple expression of affection from his wife seriously anymore. Here too it's hard to tell how much of the problem is Praskovya Fedorovna and her falseness and how much of it is Ivan, refusing to even consider that there might be something genuine in her.
She would have gone away, but just then their daughter came in and went up to say good morning. He looked at her as he had done at his wife, and in reply to her inquiry about his health said dryly that he would soon free them all of himself. They were both silent and after sitting with him for a while went away.
"Is it our fault?" Lisa said to her mother. "It's as if we were to blame! I am sorry for papa, but why should we be tortured? (11.4-5)
Because the narrative centers on Ivan it's easy to adopt his point of view, and in his point of view his family is not so great. They don't care for him, and find him only an irritation that they'd rather have off their hands. But Lisa raises a good point. To what extent are their relations bad at this point because Ivan keeps pushing them away and treating them cruelly?