The Death of Ivan Ilyich: Novel Summary: Chapter 1

While their court case is in some kind of recess, the public officials involved read the daily newspaper, finding out that Ivan Ilyich, their colleague and “friend,” is dead.  Not seeming to care for him or his family, the gentlemen immediately begin to speculate over which of them will be promoted to take his position. 
They do realize, however, how they must act about his death.  Tolstoy asserts about them: “The more intimate of Ivan Ilyichs acquaintances, his so-called friends, could not help thinking also that they would now have to fulfill the very tiresome demands of propriety by attending the funeral service and paying a visit of condolence to the widow.” At the funeral, theyre more concerned with their next game of bridge than with the death of Ilyich. 
Even Praskovya Federovna, his now widow, seems to think more of her own suffering than of her former husbands.  Speaking alone with Peter Ivanovich, she explains his final days of agony, saying, “It was unendurable.  I cannot understand how I bore it; you could hear him three rooms off.  Oh, what I have suffered!” Her main desire in speaking to him, however, is not to vent her sorrow, or even her frustrations, but to gain his aid in her plan to secure a pension from the government because of his death.