The Death of Ivan llyich and Strider: The Story of a Horse; are two pieces of literary work written by Tolstoy. The former came into being in 1886. The cardinal subject matter in that book is death. The book came in the limelight following his transition in religion back in 1870. The novel revolves around a forty five year old judge who is experiencing marital problems until such a time when he dies. “Strider” is one of the most interesting stories of Russian origin which Leo Tolstoy left unfinished only for Kholstomer to finish it later. Strider is a horse who narrates his ordeal and experience in the hands of different masters to the fellow horses until when he meets his death just as the story comes to an end. The thematic issues expressed by Tolstoy in this short narrative are exploitation and death. This particular article is written in an attempt to compare and contrast representations of death in the above mentioned texts by Leo Tolstoy. The article will answer questions on how one should approach death basing the argument on these two books. The article will also analyze the characters used in the stories to embody Tolstoy’s ideal.
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In these two stories, it is evident that the approach of death begins with having a proper attitude towards life. In Ivan’s story, the author takes the reader through his life some years back when he was a very young man studying law. On clearing school, he manages to secure a job and moves to stay in another town. He gets married to Praskovya and problems start in their life immediately. This, from the author’s disposition is the beginning of Ivan’s death. In ‘Strider’, the horse story, the authors opens the story from a second point of view before the horse is allowed a chance to narrate his ordeal to the other horses. His life in the farm was not at its best, it is described as being old and bad looking, and his entire body was weak with his skin completely worn out.
From Ivan’s story, death encompasses his life starting from his marriage. When he gets into trouble with his wife, Ivan decides to stay away from his family. While he goes to work he presents himself differently and changes abruptly while he arrives at home. In the same breath, his dream of becoming the top judge is slapped with an unexpected death and this saw him evacuating with his family to upcountry. In this text, the two deaths that encompass Ivan’s life is an indication that his real death is slowly by slowly approaching. This can be seen being fuelled by his failed marriage to Praskovya and failure to receive a promotion at his place of work. In ‘Strider’, the story of a horse, his death is slowly brought to the attention of the reader going by the mistreatment he gets from Nester. Being an old horse, he is harassed by the rest while grazing and quenching thirst. His weak foreleg seems to have met its death way before his real death. Comparing the horse, and Ivan, one can deduce that, no matter how these two try to look at life in a positive way, they are frustrated at different points in their life adding salt to injury and so their deaths continues coming closer.
In ‘The Death of Ivan llyich’, when he moves with his family to another place, Ivan looks for a better job and lucky enough he gets. He decides to buy a house and he moves his family in. going by this particular disposition, it is clearly seen that death is being distanced from the life of the main character. This comes after Ivan gets a job with help of a friend. He is completely settled ready to move on with his life. On the other hand, strider’s life takes a different turn when he begins to narrate his ordeal from when he was young. All the horses become interested to listen to his story. In the mind of the reader, the old, sick and weak horse is presented differently. His life which was painted so gloomy before the narration is being presented differently by the same horse. Just like Ivan’s life is taking a different turn away from death, so is Strider. The author in the two stories has given each a new life probably meant for plot development.
However, death courts Ivan as soon as he settles down in his new home; he feels totally uncomfortable and decides to seek help from medical experts. After paying several visits to different doctors, he ends up getting more confused and he is not himself anymore. His outward appearance changes drastically and his mind started experiencing images of him dead. This serves as a wake call to him and he realizes indeed he is going to die. The approach of death in a systematic way by the author can clearly be seen. Despite the fact that, by him visiting doctors did not arrest the situation, is a deliberate move by the author to kill Ivan. In the same breath, Strider is slowly but surely taken towards his death by the author. This is clearly seen when he terms as experience his being changed fro one hand to the next. He recalls with nostalgia how he served two masters probably for the longest time in his career. The most unfortunate incidence was while he was serving a prince who almost caused his life. Since that time strider admits that the feeling that he will one day die has always courted him. In the two stories, it can be seen that, these two parties are confused with feelings of death at one time in their life. This is only a preparation for their real death that awaits him.
In Ivan’s story, nobody seems to agree with him that he is almost approaching his death. People who are close to him just associate his condition with sickness. While in this stage, he realizes that, his only son Vasya seems to understand his condition better than anybody else. The nightmare that encompasses his mind leaves him in a very devastated situation. His journey towards death is characterized by pain and cannot move from his house. Death is surely some steps away. He starts looking at his past life and all this does not seem to make sense to him now that he is dying. The nightmare keeps coming in his mind but he is suddenly struck by a force in his chest. In his last minute to die, he quickly looks at all he had including his wife, and sees all this as a dream which never was. He dies seconds later. In the story of a horse, Strider meets his death after an a deal was sealed between his master and the veterinary. The two agree to cut his throat and this happens the following day when Strider as usual, did not go for herding but instead he was carried away meet his death with a knife. While cutting his throat, he did not seem to realize what was happening until suddenly when he felt a little pain and the burden he had carried in entire life came to an end at once. He was not frightened nor taken by surprise.
According to Tolstoy, the steady approach toward death is accompanied by the realization of its strange power which leaves one devastated. This is what happens to Ivan and Strider. These two characters have been used throughout the narration by the author to deliver his information to the reader. These are the two characters alongside others who embodies Tolstoy’s ideal.
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