Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.

The Black Sack

In Chapter IX, Ivan first dreams of the deep black sack and he imagines himself being thrust further and further into it. He wants to fall into the bag, yet he fears it at the same time. He resists being pushed into it, yet he also cooperates. If the bag is understood as a symbol of death, Ivan's ambivalence becomes clear. He both longs for the reprieve of death and fears having to relinquish life. The fact that Ivan breaks through the bag anticipates Ivan's escape from the power of death. It seems reasonable, however, that the symbol of the bag, much like the story itself, operates on two levels. As well as its function as a symbol of death, the bag also symbolizes a womb, the source of life. The pain and suffering that Ivan experiences while passing through the bag into the light refer to the trauma of birth into new life. The duality of the symbol holds a key to the story. In Ivan's life, what appears like physical death is actually spiritual rebirth, while his old life was the cause of spiritual death. Things are not what they seem, and the action must be understood in light of the motif of reversal. Ivan's life was his death, and his death brings new life.