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I remember reading an interesting short story (fairly sure it was in an early level college lit class) where a man falls off a ladder while hanging a picture or performing maintenance inside his home. He shakes off the initial pain, but doesn't realize he has caused an internal wound that will slowly kill him. The bulk of the rest of the story are the reflections of his past ethical decisions/interactions with family/belief in an afterlife etc. I think he sees some demons at some point. You know, the normal things that occur when you think you are going to die.

This story was in English, but I'm unsure if it was translated into that language. I'm also unsure which publication it may have appeared in.

Any help would be appreciated!

  • Hi and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. In order to narrow down the potential candidates, could you please add in which language you read this story and whether you remember anything about the publication in which you read it? – Tsundoku Aug 21 at 19:42
  • @Tsundoku Edited and added what information I had thanks! – jwBurnside Aug 21 at 19:53
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This looks like "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" by Leo Tolstoy:

He (Ivan Ilyich) was so interested in it all that he often did things himself, rearranging the furniture, or rehanging the curtains. Once when mounting a step-ladder to show the upholsterer, who did not understand, how he wanted the hangings draped, he mad a false step and slipped, but being a strong and agile man he clung on and only knocked his side against the knob of the window frame. The bruised place was painful but the pain soon passed, and he felt particularly bright and well just then. He wrote: "I feel fifteen years younger." He thought he would have everything ready by September, but it dragged on till mid-October. But the result was charming not only in his eyes but to everyone who saw it.

The protagonist then falls sick (although it does not explicitly say in the story that it was because of this trauma)

They were all in good health. It could not be called ill health if Ivan Ilych sometimes said that he had a queer taste in his mouth and felt some discomfort in his left side. But this discomfort increased and, though not exactly painful, grew into a sense of pressure in his side accompanied by ill humour. And his irritability became worse and worse and began to mar the agreeable, easy, and correct life that had established itself in the Golovin family.

, goes through a painful period of acceptance of death:

Ivan Ilych saw that he was dying, and he was in continual despair. In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it.

, and (spoiler alert!) dies

He drew in a breath, stopped in the midst of a sigh, stretched out, and died.

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  • That's exactly it, thank you! – jwBurnside Sep 13 at 16:17

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