In life we often think about death and what our life has become. We never suspect that we will become ill and die, and we very rarely agonize over weather our life is what it should be until its too late, as demonstrated in Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych." Throughout Tolstoy's life he was religious and enjoyed life, but then as he reached the height of his fame and fourteen he began to question everything he had once believed in. Some people think that "The Death of Ivan Ilych" holds a lot of symbolism between the story and Tolstoy's life. In "The Death of Ivan Ilych" there is a lot of symbolism of life and death as compared to Tolstoy's life.
Ivan Ilych was a man of success. He set out to achieve his goals, and make his money.
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He believed in God but wasn't sure where he would lead him. Ivan Ilych also questioned this when he "wept on account of his helplessness, his terrible loneliness, the cruelty of man, the cruelty of God and the absence of God." (Arp, 551) He felt that God wasn't there and that he caused him all the pain. Instead of realizing that maybe there was a purpose to his suffering. Tolstoy's view was that he knew about religion but "He came to see his restless search as a search for God--as a longing for someone out there who could love
us and give our living meaning...He couldn't live with out faith" (http://stripe.colorado.edu/~morristo/tolstoy/2.html) He had to struggle to understand his personal beliefs as did Ivan Ilych.
In other literary works death is also questioned as to weather or not what they did was meant to be. In W.H. Auden's poem "The Unknown Citizen" it talks of a man who has lived his life as he set out to do. He was a "saint," friends with everyone yet the question comes up "Was he free? Was he happy?" (Arp, 672) This applies to Ivan Ilych, was he free in his job and was he really happy with what he did. Yes, he was a successful public prosecutor and lived by a certain schedule,
"Ivan Ilych spent his mornings at the law court and came home for dinner, and at first he was generally in good humor,