Give a detailed description of the life of Pahom in "How Much Land Does a Man Need?"

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pahom is a peasant who lives in a small village. He works hard tilling the land and raising crops, but is able to provide a comfortable existence for his family. In addition to corn, which is his staple crop, Pahom raises animals; among these animals are horses, cows, and bees. Pahom is blessed with a wife who is satisfied with the life they live. She says,

"Though a peasant's life is not a fat one, it is long. We shall never grow rich, but we shall always have enough to eat."

Pahom on his part is not as satisfied with things as his wife is. He acknowledges that advantages of the simple life they lead, but has a temper and frequently has run-ins with the neighboring landowners over trespassing animals and fines. In addition, he covets land, and thinks,

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

At one point, he and his wife put together some money, selling a colt, hiring their son out to work, and borrowing the rest, so that they can buy a farm of forty acres. Pahom becomes a landowner,

"...plowing and sowing his own land, making hay on his own land, cutting his own trees, and feeding his cattle on his own pasture."

Although Pahom has to work very hard, his land is very beautiful, and his crops are plentiful; he is still not completely happy. Frustrated by his relations with his neighbors, he covets even more land, and ends up losing everything because of his inability to appreciate the things he has.

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How Much Land Does a Man Need?

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