What is the significance of the title of "How Much Land Does a Man Need?"

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The title of Tolstoy's story is appropriate because, in the first place, it is a story about a man who causes his own death by trying to acquire more land than he needs or can ever use. His natural aquisitiveness is fired by all the beautiful land he sees and by the knowledge that it is all his for the taking. Tolstoy is illustrating the fact that most people use up their brief lives, and even briefer youths, in frantic activities that will be pointless in the end because they will die and have to lose everything they have acquired, even their own bodies, and perhaps their own souls. At the end of the story the protagonist is buried, and it is obvious that all the land he really needed was about six feet long, three feet wide, and six feet deep. The moral is that people ought to spend more time on spiritual values and less on material values. The man in Tolstoy's story is not much different from a lot of other men and women today who are consumed with materialistic values, who want one thing and then another and another and are never satisfied.


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