The Death of Ivan Ilyich

by

Leo Tolstoy

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Death of Ivan Ilyich can help.
Pyotr Ivanovich is one of Ivan Ilyich’s colleagues, a fellow magistrate in the ministry. He is also a close friend of Ivan’s, having known him since they were both young students. Despite their history, Pyotr can’t help but think that he might be able to benefit from Ivan’s death, realizing that there will be an open position and that he can help his brother-in-law transfer because of this vacancy—something that will please his wife and thus save him from her constant scorn. And yet, Pyotr Ivanovich does feel unsettled by Ivan’s death, though this is mainly because it forces him to acknowledge his own mortality. Nonetheless, he reminds himself that Ivan was the one to die, not him. Furthermore, he refuses to let Ivan’s funeral throw him into sadness, instead deciding to leave as soon as possible in order to play a game of whist with one of his and Ivan’s colleagues, Schwartz. Before he can sneak out of the ceremony, though, Praskovya pulls him aside to talk about Ivan’s death and to ask him how she might wring as much money as possible out of the government in the wake of her husband’s passing. Undeterred by this detour, though, Pyotr manages to leave the funeral shortly thereafter, setting off to spend a pleasant evening playing cards with his friends.

Pyotr Ivanovich Quotes in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The The Death of Ivan Ilyich quotes below are all either spoken by Pyotr Ivanovich or refer to Pyotr Ivanovich. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Death of Ivan Ilyich published in 2008.
Chapter 1 Quotes

So, the first thought that occurred to each of the assembled gentlemen on hearing the news of his death was how this death might affect his own prospects, and those of their acquaintances, for transfer or promotion.

‘I’m sure to get Shtabel’s job now, or Vinnikov’s,’ thought Fyodor Vasilyevich. ‘They promised me ages ago, and a promotion like that would give me another eight hundred roubles a year, plus expenses.’

‘I must apply to have my brother-in-law transferred from Kaluga,’ thought Pyotr Ivanovich. ‘My wife will be delighted. She won’t be able to tell me I never do anything for her people.’

‘I had a feeling he wasn’t going to get better,’ said Pyotr Ivanovich. ‘It’s sad.’

Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

Apart from the speculations aroused in each of them by this death, concerning the transfers and possible changes that this death might bring about, the very fact of the death of someone close to them aroused in all who heard about it, as always, a feeling of delight that he had died and they hadn’t.

‘There you have it. He’s dead, and I’m not’ was what everyone thought or felt.

Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

Pyotr Ivanovich entered the room, and hesitated, as people always do on these occasions, not knowing precisely what to do. The only thing he was certain of was that in this situation you couldn’t go wrong if you made the sign of the cross. Whether or not you should bow at the same time he wasn’t sure, so he went for a compromise, crossing himself as he walked in and giving a bit of a bow as he did so. At the same time, as far as hand and head movements permitted, he glanced round the room.

Related Characters: Ivan Ilyich Golovin, Pyotr Ivanovich
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

He had changed a good deal; he was even thinner than he had been when Pyotr Ivanovich had last seen him, but, as with all dead bodies, his face had acquired greater beauty, or, more to the point, greater significance, than it had had in life. Its expression seemed to say that what needed to be done had been done, and done properly. More than that, the expression contained a reproach, or at least a reminder, to the living. The reminder seemed out of place to Pyotr Ivanovich, or at least he felt it didn’t apply to him personally.

Related Characters: Ivan Ilyich Golovin, Pyotr Ivanovich
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

‘Three days and three nights of horrible suffering, and then death. Just think, it could happen to me any time, now,’ he thought, and he felt that momentary pang of fear. But immediately he was saved, without knowing how, by the old familiar idea that this had happened to Ivan Ilyich, not him, and it could not and would not happen to him, and that kind of thinking would put him in a gloomy mood, for which there was no need, as Schwartz’s face had clearly demonstrated. Pursuing this line of thought, Pyotr Ivanovich calmed down and began to show a close interest in the details of Ivan Ilyich’s death, as if death was a chance experience that may have applied to Ivan Ilyich but certainly didn’t apply to him.

Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Death of Ivan Ilyich LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich PDF

Pyotr Ivanovich Character Timeline in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The timeline below shows where the character Pyotr Ivanovich appears in The Death of Ivan Ilyich. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
In a courthouse, Ivan Yegorovich Shebek and Fyodor Vasilyevich argue about a case while Pyotr Ivanovich—another judge—reads the newspaper. Looking up from the pages, he interrupts his colleagues with grave... (full context)
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
...reshuffling of positions. This, he knows, will enable him to make even more money. Meanwhile, Pyotr Ivanovich privately thinks about how he will be able to get his brother-in-law a job... (full context)
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
As Pyotr Ivanovich and his colleagues discuss Ivan Ilyich’s death, they find themselves overwhelmingly relieved that they... (full context)
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Of all Ivan’s colleagues, Pyotr Ivanovich was his closest friend. After dinner that night, Pyotr regretfully sets out for the... (full context)
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
Pyotr Ivanovich hesitantly enters the room that contains the coffin. As he steps inside, he awkwardly... (full context)
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
Crossing himself once more, Pyotr Ivanovich hurries out of the room. Again, he sees Schwartz, who is waiting for him... (full context)
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Just when Pyotr is about to follow Schwartz out of the funeral, Praskovya intercepts him and leads him... (full context)
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
...the aftermath of her husband’s death. Pretending to deliberate on this matter for a moment, Pyotr eventually tells her that he can’t help, claiming that she most likely won’t be able... (full context)
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Pyotr Ivanovich sees Ivan’s adult daughter, Liza, who nods at him in a way that makes... (full context)
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
Pyotr Ivanovich refuses to look at Ivan Ilyich’s body during the ceremony and leaves as soon... (full context)