They are separated by an ocean and by a century and a half, but in other ways Ivan Ilyich and H. L. Hix are not so far apart. Ivan Ilyich's former
colleagues in the law courts of St. Petersburg go through the motions of mourning his death, keeping to themselves their relief that it was he, not
themselves, who had died. So do H. L. Hix's former colleagues in the English Department of the University of Wyoming. Ivan Ilyich is hanging
curtains when he bumps his kidney, sustaining the injury that eventually kills him. H. L. Hix is mowing the dandelions that have overgrown his
gravel driveway when a kicked-up rock inflicts the injury to his kidney that eventually kills him. Ivan Ilyich wishes he had more chances to play
bridge, and H. L. Hix wishes there were an Indian restaurant in his backward town. Ivan Ilyich's weakening body contrasts with the sturdy
frame of his servant Gerasim, and H. L. Hix's decaying body pales before the vigorous body of his home health-care aide Gary Simm. But just as one hears within walls the humming of hived honeybees, so within the incidental similarities that associate Ivan Ilyich and H. L. Hix, the reader hears in The Death of H. L. Hix the humming of the ultimate and universal fate that unites writer, reader, and written-of into the one
protagonist of the one story.