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The Death of Ivan Ilych

The Death of Ivan Ilych

by Leo Tolstoy

Society and Class Quotes

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Quote #10

He lay on his back and began to pass his life in review in quite a new way. In the morning when he saw first his footman, then his wife, then his daughter, and then the doctor, their every word and movement confirmed to him the awful truth that had been revealed to him during the night. In them he saw himself – all that for which he had lived – and saw clearly that it was not real at all, but a terrible and huge deception which had hidden both life and death. This consciousness intensified his physical suffering tenfold. He groaned and tossed about, and pulled at his clothing which choked and stifled him. And he hated them on that account. (11.14)

Ivan's condemnation of the falsehood of everyone around him – not just his family, but his footman and his doctors as well – is also a condemnation of his class. All of these people are entirely caught up within the world of their class; their falsity is tied into the falsehood of that world. By hiding or ignoring death, one gets away with hiding what's important in life.

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