Pyotr Ivanovich Quotes in The Death of Ivan Ilyich
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.’
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.
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.
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.
‘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.