The short story, "The Death of Ivan Ilych", written by Leo Tolstoy, is about the reactions of a man and his friends to his suffering and death. Everyone who knows Ivan including Ivan himself has led a life of total disconcern for the feelings and sufferings of others. They all lead shallow lives not daring to probe into the feelings deep down inside for fear of stepping outside the lines of propriety. That is the biggest rule that people of that society follow. Do not say or show what you are thinking. .
Ivan Ilych's attitude toward life is the same all the way up to his death. He was as the author put it, ".a capable, good-natured, and social man, though strict in the fulfillment of what he considered his duty: and he considered his duty to be what was so considered by those in authority." (p. 1088) That quote states that Ivan was solely concerned with his duties and his advancement in position by following the orders of his authorities. .
Ivan was son of a successful man who held many positions in many departments. That man, Ilya Epimovich Golovin, had three sons. The oldest followed his father's example and was a success. The youngest son was a total failure. He had blown many opportunities and was the shame of the family. Ivan the middle son was the better of the two. Ivan was a mix of his two brothers. He had the hard-working spirit of the older brother but also appreciates the value of a good time like the younger brother. .
Ivan's career grew steadily. In a short time, he eventually obtained the position of examining magistrate. Ivan did very well in this position. He excelled in the separation of the personal duties in his life and the official duties to which he was totally dedicated. This taste of power which came with his new position was very appealing to Ivan. The idea that writing a few words or giving a simple command sent people into motion made Ivan very happy. .
Upon moving to a new town to take up the position of examining magistrate, Ivan met his future wife, Praskovya Fedorovna Mikhel.