From the short story, "The death of Ivan Ilych," what is your interpretations in the end of the novella?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Leo Tolstoy had a major religious conversion after writing Anna Karenina, and The Death of Ivan Ilych is his most famous after-conversion work.  He converted to a kind of Buddhist, secularist version of Christianity in which he rejected Christ as the Son of God, rejected an afterlife, but believed in the practical teachings of Christ.  In particular, he wanted to live the life of a Christian ascetic, so he renounced his earlier writings, gave up materialism, and sought to better the lives of two groups in particular: children and peasants/servants.

Just as Tolstoy had an Christian epiphany, so too does Ilych.  His servant Gerásim is the key to understanding this.  From my notes:

I. His final epiphany 1459-60

i) He must let go of all justification of his life.

ii) He has a major revelation

iii) He starts to feel universal compassion for people whom he had been hating.

iv) He dies content--this compassion sets him free from the hate, jealousy, and pettiness that had been holding him back.

v) The moral center of the work is the servant, Gerásim, a member of the peasant class (1448)

vi) This works as a metaphor for Tolstoy's brand of Christianity.


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The Death of Ivan Ilyich

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