Narrative Structure Of Death Of Ivan Illych 


The narrative structure of Death of Ivan Illych is one which clearly portrays the moral lesson. The structure begins differently than most literary works, starting with a funeral and working backward from there. But in this story telling structure, the author is able to make the reader feel a connection to the protagonist while also feeling reflective about their lifestyle.

In the Death of Ivan Illych, the narrative begins with Ivan’s funeral. This is done to provide a very intimate view of the social group that Ivan occupied so that as the reader it is susceptible to critique. This is also done to establish contrasting attitudes toward the more unpleasant components to life, which is a major theme in the work. The artificial and shallow relationships are shown immediately with the self-interested behavior of his wife and his friends. This is intended to demonstrate how hypocritical his society was. It was also placed there to undercut the values that Ivan held onto his whole life.

The introduction of this narrative shows how his friends are not concerned with his passing, but with the open professional position they might now occupy. The indifference of his wife at his passing showcases his inability to develop a truly loving relationship with anyone and also how shallow she was. In this way, the opening chapter serves as an attack on the society of which Ivan was a part.

There is a moral agenda which drives the narrative. The structure of the narrative was designed to make the reader question the way they live and also the way in which they conform to society. The narrative is presented as a story rather than a logical argument but the logical argument remains crystal clear to the reader. It is through the description of goals, thoughts, and desires of this average man that the author creates a sketch of everyone and allows us to identify with the life which was led by the protagonist, while also linking us emotionally to the suffering of the protagonist and his agonizing death.

The narrative structure of this piece shows the reader that being fake will end in misery and the only good life is one which is authentic, constituted by self-sacrificing love and compassion. As a reader we are taught the true meaning of life. With this narrative structure, readers are given a roadmap to morality through the introduction first of immorality.