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The best known definition for realism is the truthful treatment of material. As Emily Dickinson said, "Tell all the truth but tell it slant." In the 1870's, naturalism was best defined in a scientific form. It was said that naturalists were people that were prisoners of their biological inheritance and social environment. Knowing this, which do you choose, 'get real' or 'go all natural?'
Ivan Ilyitch lived a common life as a child. He attended law school to learn how to be social. Eventually, he became an examining magistrate and he continues to live a decorous lifestyle that he absolutely cherishes. As Ivan progresses through his life, he begins to separate himself from his family to absorb himself deeper into his work. Time moves on, Ivan moves in with his brother, gets a new job, moves out, etc. He falls preparing a new home for his family and as time passes, he begins to endure discomfort and pain. He grows irritable, quarrelsome, depressed, fearful, and bitter as he struggles to accept the concept of his death.
Telling it like it is and being straight forward literally becomes the way it needs to be with Ivan, unfortunately, everyone around him continues to act as if he is only sick and that he is going to survive. Ivan looks back on his life and the further back he looks, the happier he recalls his life was. Currently as he ages and as his pain worsens, he realizes the bitterness of his life worsens as well. Tolstoy states, "Anger choked him and he was agonizingly, unbearably miserable. 'It is impossible that all men have been doomed to suffer this awful horror!' He raised himself."
Ivan's wife fails to understand him and Tolstoy goes on to describe Ivan's hatred for Praskovya. Ivan realizes that all he has wanted was for someone to pity him, however, he refuses to admit that. "At that very moment Ivan Ilyich fell through and caught sight of the light, and it was revealed to him that though his life had not been what it should have been, this could still be rectified. He asked himself, 'What is the right thing?' and grew still, listening. Then he felt that someone was kissing his hand. He opened his eyes, looked at his son, and felt sorry for him. His wife came up to him and he glanced at her. She was gazing at him open-mouthed, with undried tears on her nose and cheek and a despairing look on her face. He felt sorry for her too." As Ivan is passing, he realizes that his official life, his family, and his social relations were all artificial.
Get Real? Who did in Ivan's life? No one. Not a soul. Ivan even admits that as he is lying on his death bed. He lived his life so consumed in himself that he was oblivious to what was occurring outside of himself. Ivan detaches himself from everyone and everything except for his work. The comparison of the pain that he endures with the joy in his life is an accurate and logical observation. There is an emphasis on clear but restrained criticism of social environment and morality. This is expressed as Tolstoy describes the way that everyone acts as if Ivan will survive instead of admitting and living the inevitable.
In Chickamauga, there is a boy that strays away from his home and gets lost. The boy grows weary and finds a place to sleep for a while. Upon his awakening, he finds himself in the middle of what he believes is a game, but actually happens to be a war. As the soldiers refuse to cooperate with the game that the boy is trying to play, the boy jumps up and tries to lead them. They end up marching towards the boys' home and the boy realizes that his home is ablaze. Upon closer inspection of the picture that Bierce paints, the boy sees his mother lying on the ground dying. Bierce is very heartless in describing the gruesome details of how the boy finds his mother.
Bierce writes, "The child moved his little hands, making wild, uncertain gestures. He uttered a series of inarticulate and indescribable cries - something between the chattering of an ape and the gobbling of a turkey - a startling, soulless, unholy sound, the language of a devil. The child was a deaf mute. Then he stood motionless, with quivering lips, looking down upon the wreck."
What about 'the boy'? Bierce recounts that the battle of Chickamauga as a psychological battle against everyone. He does not allow you to form any type of relationship at all whatsoever with this child. Bierce even refers to the boy as 'it' on several occasions just to force you to keep from having any sympathy for the boy. The author portrays this character as a young boy of inconvenience and a nuisance that transcends into a person with knowledge of the world's cruelties, while also enduring his own cruelties.
With naturalism, people desired to shock the middle class and they desired to work more with the working class. The graphic and grotesque details that Bierce show in this story were more than a shock. Bierce states, "There, conspicuous in the light of the conflagration, lay the dead body of a woman - the white face turned upward, the hands thrown out and clutched full of grass, the clothing deranged, the long dark hair in tangles and full of clotted blood. The greater part of the forehead was torn away, and from the jagged hole the brain protruded, overflowing the temple, a frothy mass of gray, crowned with clusters of crimson bubbles - the work of a shell."
On a contrast, basically, realism has a happy ending and in naturalism, there is no such thing as a happy ending. However, in an explanation in our notes, it appears as if realism is all natural with feelings and lifestyles, then there is naturalism, of which is based on scientific things like chemistry, and the environment. Logically speaking, I would have thought that they would have been opposite. Realism and naturalism differ greatly, as I have explained above for both stories. On another note, I personally, have not ever been able to sit and enjoy a story such as "The Death of Ivan Ilyitch" and "Chickamauga". After covering this material and gaining a deeper understanding, I have gained a true sense of appreciation for both Tolstoy and war stories.