The Death of Ivan Ilyich

by

Leo Tolstoy

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Vasya Character Analysis

Vasya is Ivan’s young son, who is perhaps the only person in his family who truly cares about Ivan’s failing health. Unlike Praskovya and Liza, Vasya hasn’t been corrupted yet by fixating on social status or reputation. Similarly, he also hasn’t lost his innocence by entering the professional world. For this reason, Ivan admires him for his authentic, untainted goodness. While Vasya is crying and flailing his arms on the last day of Ivan’s life, Ivan’s hand touches Vasya’s head, and Vasya kisses his father’s fingers, flooding Ivan with sorrow and regret as he suddenly sees that his suffering is harming his family members. In fact, it is this tender exchange that inspires him to ask for his family’s forgiveness just before dying.

Vasya Quotes in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The The Death of Ivan Ilyich quotes below are all either spoken by Vasya or refer to Vasya. 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 12 Quotes

‘Yes, I’m hurting them,’ he thought. ‘They feel sorry for me, but they’ll be all right when I’m dead.’ He wanted to tell them this, but he wasn’t strong enough to get the words out. ‘Anyway…no good talking. Must do something.’ He looked at his wife, motioned to their son and said: ‘Take him away…sorry for him… and you…’ He tried to say, ‘Forgive me,’ but it came out as, ‘For goodness…’ Too weak to correct himself, he waved his hand knowing that he who needed to would understand.

Related Characters: Ivan Ilyich Golovin (speaker), Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina, Vasya
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:
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Vasya Character Timeline in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The timeline below shows where the character Vasya appears in The Death of Ivan Ilyich. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
...same, and just as Pyotr is about to turn away, he sees Ivan’s young boy, Vasya, who looks exactly like his father did at that age. The child’s teary eyes strike... (full context)
Chapter 8
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
...so Liza and Petrishchev come in and start talking about the play. Ivan’s young son, Vasya, also comes in, and Ivan thinks about how much he pities the boy, who is... (full context)
Chapter 12
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
Illness and Control Theme Icon
As Ivan continues to yell, he swings his arms around and accidentally brushes Vasya, who has snuck into his room. Vasya catches Ivan’s hand, holds it to his mouth,... (full context)
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Illness and Control Theme Icon
...that they will be better when he dies. First, though, he tells Praskovya to send Vasya out of the room, saying that he’s sorry for him and for Praskovya herself. Finally,... (full context)