Study Guide

The Death of Ivan Ilych Chapter 8

By Leo Tolstoy

Chapter 8

  • One morning at around 8:30, Ivan wakes up to find Peter, the footman, tidying up his room. Everyone else is still asleep, except Ivan's son, who is already at school.
  • Ivan asks Peter for tea, and his medicine.
  • At this point, Ivan puts no hope in his medicine at all. No hope in anything, in fact.
  • Nothing matters to Ivan except his approaching death, and he alternates between clinging to life and wanting death to come faster to bring the whole horrible affair to an end.
  • Peter helps Ivan to get dressed, and Ivan takes care to avoid looking at his body because he can no longer bear the sight of it.
  • A little later, the doctor arrives to make an examination. He's in a very cheerful mood and makes various little jokes that Ivan finds insufferable.
  • Praskovya Fedorovna comes in, kisses Ivan (which as usual fills him with hatred), and complains for the thousandth time that Ivan is still not following the doctor's instructions.
  • Then, after the doctor has finished with the examination, Praskovya Fedorovna announces that she's also sent for a celebrated specialist that day.
  • The celebrated specialist arrives, conducts an examination, and promptly starts talking with Michael Danilovich, (the other doctor's name, as we learn), about the kidney and appendix as usual.
  • When Ivan asks cautiously whether there's any chance of recovery, he is told that there might be.
  • That remark fills Ivan with hope for a moment, but it evaporates as soon as the celebrated specialist leaves.
  • Ivan's still stuck in the same room, with the same old pain and the same old useless doctor and useless medicines. He's then given an injection and falls unconscious.
  • Ivan wakes up again around twilight and forces himself through a rather pathetic dinner.
  • Around 7pm, Praskovya Fedorovna comes in, dressed up for an evening out at the theater with Lisa and Fedor Petrovich. She's obviously pleased to be leaving, but tells Ivan very unconvincingly that she'd rather stay with him.
  • Lisa, Fedor Petrovich, and Vasya (Ivan's young son) come in all suited up in eveningwear.
  • Vasya looks at Ivan sadly and pathetically.
  • They all ask the expected questions about how Ivan is doing and then fall into an animated and thoroughly unoriginal conversation about the theater.
  • The small talk doesn't last too long, however, because first Fedor Petrovich and then the rest notice that Ivan is just silently staring straight ahead with obvious fury. Silence falls and general awkwardness ensues.
  • Lisa finally breaks the silence to get up and announce it's time to go, and everyone else eagerly follows.
  • Ivan feels as though falseness itself had just walked out of the room.
  • But unfortunately, with the unwanted company gone, he's just back to his normal, lonely, miserable self.
  • He asks Peter to send in Gerasim.

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