At the exposition of the story, why does the Devil become interested in Pahom in "How Much Land Does a Man Need"? 

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the exposition of the story the Devil beomes interested in Pahom because of his tendency to be greedy.  The Devil knows that Pahom has a lust for land, and that because of this, he will be easy prey for the Devil's temptations.

The story opens with a debate between an older sister, who is a city dweller, and her younger sibling, who is the wife of a peasant farmer, Pahom.  The subject of the debate is whether city life or peasant life is preferable.  The elder sister cites the amenities of the city, such as access to better clothes, better food, and entertainment as support for her argument that city life is more desirable, while the younger sister says that although their life is hard, she and her husband are free, will never lack for food, and, having no time for idleness, will not lust after worldly things, and thus avoid the temptations of the Devil.  Pahom at this point joins into the exchange, offering his opinion that the good thing about peasant life is that there is indeed no time available for nonsense, but at the same time, he laments that, as a peasant, he does not have enough land.  Pahom says,

"If I had plenty of land, I shouldn't fear the Devil himself!"

The Devil, seeing his opportunity, appeals to Pahom's weakness in lusting after land.  He seduces Pahom with the chance to attain the land he so covets, knowing that Pahom in his greed will jump at the chance to get what he desires, even though it will lead to his demise.

yssai | Student

because the Devil heard Pahom when he said "If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!”. The Devil wanted to dare if Pahom will be able to surpass the Devil's wit.

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How Much Land Does a Man Need?

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