Benjamin Franklin, a famous author once revealed that ‘a man without a wife, is a half man’. I believe he meant that for a man’s life to be complete he must marry and therefore one who does not marry cannot live a complete life. Marriage enables a man to have a family. A family is very important to a man’s life because it provides companionship and a sense of belonging. Therefore, a man’s greatest asset is his family. However, the novel, ‘The Death of Ivan Ilych,’ by Leo Tolstoy makes me wonder if a man really needs family in his life.
Ivan does not seem to care very much about his family because he decides to concentrate on climbing the corporate ladder. He does not bother solving the problems of his marital life. His career is the only thing that matters in his life. Later, Ivan gets injured and he becomes very sick and realizes that he is dying (Tolstoy, 2013). He then discovers that he never lived a happy life. Ivan is surprised by the fact that even his wife and daughter do not care about his sickness, they just assume it is a normal thing. After Ivan’s death, his wife is only concerned with how she will get Ivan’s pension: she is not affected by his husband’s death. I believe Leo Tolstoy is trying to explain how modern life is wrecked. People concentrate so much on their social status, careers, and other material things that they fail to see the importance of family.

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I think that the story also tries to reveal that Ivan was the main cause of the lack of care from his family. His family did not care about the fact that he was dying because he also never cared about them. While he was sick, Ivan realizes the fact that he did not care much about his family and on the last day he suddenly becomes happy and he acquires a good attitude towards his family (Tolstoy, 2013). He then decides to die after realizing that death will eliminate the suffering that he has brought to his family. I trust that Leo Tolstoy is trying to reveal to the readers that people realize the most important things such as our family when it is too late. I cannot conclude the fact that Leo’s family could have been caring if he had decided to concentrate on taking care of his family, but what I know is that life is like a boomerang and therefore what a person does will always come back to him. Therefore, we cannot blame Ivan’s wife for only caring about the pension after his husband’s death if we realize that Ivan never cared about her too. He only worried about his social status.

Many men, just like Ivan try to escape the responsibility of having a family by concentrating on something else. They fail to realize that such action does not solve the problem but it makes matters worse. I wonder why people like Ivan get married and start families without even thinking about the difficulties and responsibilities associated with starting a family. Before he fell sick, Ivan failed to acknowledge the fact that family is an important aspect of his life. It looks like he did not look into the future before he decided to start his family. Ivan could have been a very caring father and husband if he valued his family more than his work but he seems to place more value in his work and this is why he failed to take responsibility for his family. Therefore, I believe that before a man gets married and decides to start a family he must assess his values. He must realize what he values most between a family and his career but the irony is that many people do not do so. Many people also claim that they start families because they want to have people who care for them but ironically, they become bored with the companionship after some years and concentrate on other things. This conclusion makes me ask myself, ‘For what reason do people start a family?’

  • Tolstoy, L. (2013). The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Sunnyvale: Loki’s Publishing