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

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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"How Much Land Does a Man Need?" is a significant title. Pahom tries to answer this question. He feels if he had enough land, he would not fear the devil himself:

“If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!” The devil, overhearing this boast, decides to give Pahom his wish, seducing him with the extra land that Pahom thinks will give him security.

No doubt, Pahom feels that enough land would solve all his problems. He manages to purchase some land, but soon this land is not enough. He has just as many problems as before. 

Pahom seeks more and more land. He finds one deal after another. Then he hears about the land at the Bashkirs country. Pahom decides to check out this new, lush land. When he arrives, there is so much land. Pahom feels he can make a deal with the Bashkirs. They make the following deal. Pahom has a starting point at sunup. He can purchase all the land he can walk around in one day. The deal is that Pahom must make it back to the starting point by sundown.

As the sun rises, Pahom sets out. He begins walking around all the lush, green land. The problem is he cannot seem to get enough, thus, the title of "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" After walking all day, Pahom has covered more than enough land. His greed has caused him to try and cover too much land. By the going down of the sun, Pahom is running to get to the starting point. He is sweating and about to pass out. He makes it back but drops dead from sheer exhaustion. Pahom should have been content with less land to cover. He dies in his own selfish greed. To answer the title's question, a man only needs six feet of land which is enough to be buried in:

Pahom’s servant picks up the spade with which Pahom had been marking his land and digs a grave in which to bury him: “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”
 

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