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The Theme of The Death of Ivan Ilych

The Theme of The Death of Ivan Ilych

One Work Cited In “The Death of Ivan Ilych”, Leo Tolstoy examines the life of a man, Ivan, who would seem to have lived an exemplary life with moderate wealth, high station, and family. By story’s end, however, Ivan’s life will be shown to be devoid of passion — a life of duties, responsibilities, respect, work, and cold objectivity to everything and everyone around Ivan. It is not until Ivan is on his death bed in his final moments that he realizes what will become the major theme of the story: that the personal relationships we forge are more important in life than who we are or what we own.

This point of the story is indirectly brought out in the very beginning when Ivan’s colleagues, and supposedly his friends, learn of his death. The narrator states in paragraph 5:

So on receiving the news of Ivan Ilych’s death the first thought

of each of the gentlemen in that private room was of the changes

and promotions it might occasion among themselves or their


This line reveals that among Ivan’s peers, he was no more than an obstacle. It also reveals that these men regarded Ivan with the same respect and cold, professional indifference with which he regarded them. Ivan’s own wife appears to be just going through the motions of grieving, when in fact she is more concerned with monetary matters. Of all the characters presented in this story, none truly mourns the passing of Ivan Ilych.

Of the things Ivan seemed to pride himself on during his lifetime was his professionalism while performing his job at the Court of Justice. The narrator explains in some detail how Ivan was able to detach himself from the emotional turmoil surrounding a case while “eliminating all considerations irrelevant to the legal aspect of the case” (paragraph 65). This portrays Ivan Ilych as a shrewd, calculating, apathetic magistrate, whose only concern was for the process of justice, and not for the people his rulings affected. He is made to realize, too late, the dehumanizing effect his unemotional demeanor has had on others when a physician gives him like treatment. Ivan recognizes that “the doctor put on just the same air towards him as he himself put on towards an accused person” (paragraph 115).

Point of View in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery

Point of View in The Lottery

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” uses the third-person dramatic point of view to tell a story about an un-named village that celebrates a wicked, annual event. The narrator in the story gives many small details of the lottery taking place, but leaves the most crucial and chilling detail until the end: the winner of the lottery is stoned to death by the other villagers. The use of the third-person point of view, with just a few cases of third-person omniscient thrown in, is an effective way of telling this ironic tale, both because the narrator’s reporter-like blandness parallels the villagers’ apparent apathy to the lottery, and because it helps build to the surprise ending by giving away bits of information to the reader through the actions and discussions of the villagers without giving away the final twist.

“The Lottery” is primarily told in the third-person dramatic point of view, but on occasion the narrator becomes omniscient to divulge information to the reader that which is commonly known to the villagers. In paragraph 7, for example, the …

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