ENGL 2210 World Literature II

Death of Ivan Ilyich: Study Guide

    1. Make a listing of the names of the main characters and indicate how they are related to Ivan Ilich.
    2. What is the reaction of Ivan's friends when they learn of his death? What does that tell you of their relationship before he died? Give examples.
    3. What is his wife's reaction?
    4. Describe the atmosphere in the room where Ivan lies. What "rituals" take place in the room?
    1. In what ways was Ivan's life "ordinary"? Give examples.
    2. Describe some of the positions that he held and his attitude toward his duties.
    3. What reasons did he have for marrying Praskovya?
    4. What are Ivan's main concerns at this stage in his life?
    5. How does his wife change after she gets pregnant?
    6. How does Ivan react toward these changes?
    7. How does his attitude toward his wife and his job change?
    1. Why does II decide to move?
    2. How does he get along with his wife after they move? Why?
    3. How does Ivan hurt himself? Do you think this is of any significance?
    4. The narrator states that, at this stage in Ivan's life "Everything was as it should be." Give few examples of what Ivan thought life should be like.
    5. In what kind of things does Ivan find pleasure?
    1. How does Ivan feel about his pain?
    2. How does his character change?
    3. How has this change affected his wife?
    4. How does Ivan see his illness differently from the way the doctors look at it?
    5. How does his outlook on life and the world change after his visit to the doctor?
    6. Other than the torments of the pain, what other torments is Ivan experiencing?
    7. What is his family's attitude toward his pain?
    8. What does Ivan want most of all from his family and from others?
    1. Ivan notices how healthy everyone around him is. Why?
    2. Describe his mood as he realizes he is dying. What bothers him most about death?
    1. What is the "Caius" syllogism? How does it apply to him?
    1. What is the concern of everyone else in the third month of Ivan's disease?
    2. What does Ivan come to realize about the behavior of his family and friends?
    3. Describe Gerasim and his background.
    4. How does Gerasim treat Ivan differently?
    5. What does Ivan think of him?
    6. How does Gerasim comfort him?
    1. Other than Gerasim, who else understand Ivan and pities him?
    1. Describe the dialogue Ivan has with himself.
    2. What does he question? What conclusions does he come to?
    3. What does he question about his past? What conclusions does he come to?
    1. What are his thought as he approaches death?
    1. What is the cause of Ivan's mental suffering?
    2. What thoughts does he have of his past?
    1. What is the "black hole"?
    2. Describe his death.