Study Guide

The Death of Ivan Ilych Chapter 6

By Leo Tolstoy

Chapter 6

  • Deep down Ivan Ilych now knows he is in fact dying.
  • But even though he knows it in the abstract, he still can't bring himself to accept that he, Ivan Ilych – once upon a time the beloved "little Vanya" of his parents – can die.
  • Often Ivan tries to turn his mind to something other than his death, but he can't. He's got a pretty one-track mind these days.
  • Even in the middle of a case at the law courts, death will appear and "stare him in the face." And what's worst of all is that Ivan can't do anything about this; he can't make it go away.
  • To escape death when he's at home, Ivan often goes to the drawing room and rearranges the furniture obsessively.
  • This usually succeeds in distracting him.
  • But then every so often Praskovya Fedorovna will scold him and say that he should let a servant do the work so he doesn't hurt himself.
  • When that happens, Ivan will start thinking of death all over again, and grow infuriated that, yes, he is in fact dying on account of something as inane as that drapery.
  • On such occasions, there's nothing for the horrified, disbelieving Ivan to do but go to the study and lie down.
  • But even there, death follows him.