The Death of Ivan Ilych
Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Ivan Ilych had been a colleague of the gentlemen present and was liked by them all. He had been ill for some weeks with an illness said to be incurable. His post had been kept open for him, but there had been conjectures that in case of his death Alexeev might receive his appointment, and that either Vinnikov or Shtabel would succeed Alexeev. So on receiving the news of Ivan Ilych's death the first thought of each of the gentlemen in that private room was of the changes and promotions it might occasion among themselves or their acquaintances. (1.5)
Right from the start of the story we see a disgusting artificiality and fakeness in the characters and their way of relating to each other. We've just been told that Ivan was a well-liked friend of all three of the people we've just met. Yet when they first hear he's dead, their only thought is about their own promotions.
Fedor Vasilievich and Peter Ivanovich had been his nearest acquaintances. Peter Ivanovich had studied law with Ivan Ilych and had considered himself to be under obligations to him. (1.18)
Not only are Peter Ivanovich and Fedor Vasilievich – two of the three guys who greeted Ivan's death with eager thoughts of promotions – Ivan's friends and colleagues, they're his closest friends. Fedor Vasilievich doesn't even bother to go to Ivan's service, and Peter Ivanovich only goes from a sense of obligation.
His colleague Schwartz was just coming downstairs, but on seeing Peter Ivanovich enter he stopped and winked at him, as if to say: "Ivan Ilych has made a mess of things – not like you and me."
Schwartz's face with his Piccadilly whiskers, and his slim figure in evening dress, had as usual an air of elegant solemnity which contrasted with the playfulness of his character and had a special piquancy here, or so it seemed to Peter Ivanovich.] (1.21-22)
Schwartz is perhaps the most false character in the novella. Whereas Peter Ivanovich is somewhat affected by Ivan's death once he gets to the service, Schwartz is totally unaffected by it. He just as cheery as ever, and completely refuses to recognize that Ivan Ilych's death has anything to do with Peter Ivanovich and himself.