Tuesday, January 6, 2009

AP Assignments January 6 2008

Week 1 (Tuesday January 6-Monday January 12): Read The Death of Ivan Ilyich, p. 280 in our anthology. As you read this story and the discussion questions, think about the story’s central message and the techniques Tolstoy uses to convey meaning. In what ways is Tolstoy’s story critical of bourgeois Russian culture? Is Ilyich meant to be a unique or a representative character? What is the role of the narrator in shaping our understanding of the story’s meanings? We will discuss questions 1 through 6 beginning Wednesday (read chapters 1-6) afternoon through Friday and finish our discussion Monday (read 7 - 12) and Tuesday morning. Blog entries are due by Monday, January 12. No quiz this week. Vocab lessons 13-15 next Friday, January 16.

1. What purpose is served by placing Ilyich’s funeral at the beginning of the novella rather than at the end?

2. What is Pyotr Ivanovich’s role in chapter 1? Why does Tolstoy describe his thoughts in such detail?

3. Explain the significance of the first sentence in section 2. How does it set the tone for what follows?

4. Describe Ilyich’s professional and personal life up to the move to Petersburg. What are his motives? How does he make decisions? What is the narrator’s attitude toward him?

5. What is the source of Ilyich’s illness? Discuss the significance of his symptoms? How do his physical problems affect him psychologically? Is his illness symbolic?

6. At what key points does Ilyich begin to re-evaluate his life? How does Tolstoy attempt to make this process credible? Does he succeed?

7. Re-read the two paragraphs beginning on page 305 (¶ 217) (“What tormented Ivan Ilyich most . . . ) to the end of the chapter. According to Tolstoy, why is Ilyich suffering? What is the source of the lie? What does Ilyich most want? Why can’t he have it? What does Tolstoy mean when he refers to “this falseness in himself and in those around him”? What is the peasant boy Gerasim’s role?

8. Consider Ivan Ilyich’s prayer in chapter 9 and the response. Look at the dialogue between mind and soul. Does this dialogue contain the seeds of an important realization? What does the voice which answers him represent? Why does Ilyich “dismiss this bizarre idea”?

9. What is the source of the “moral agony” Ilyich experiences in chapter 11? Why does Ilyich answer “yes” when his wife asks him if he feels better? How does this answer affect him? Why?

10. In chapter 12, what is “the real thing”? Why does the fear of death leave him in the hour before his death? Does dying change Ivan Ilyich in any important way?