It is as if I had been going downhill while I imagined I was going up. And that is really what it was. I was going up in public opinion, but to the same extent life was ebbing away from me. And now it is all done and there is only death.

These lines are from chapter IX of the novel, shortly after Ivan hears the voice of his soul. For the first time Ivan begins to realize that social status is not the same as fulfillment. He feels that his desire to travel in the prescribed tracks of aristocratic society actually robbed him of life. Whether Ivan truly understands the implications of his 'realization' is open to question. Later in the novel, Ivan chooses to maintain his belief in the correctness of his life, rather than carry his realization to its logical conclusion. Regardless of the true extent of Ivan's understanding, however, the quotation reflects his spiritual awakening.