In "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" how does Pahom's dream foreshadow or hint at the outcome of the story?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Leo Tolstoy's story "How Much Land Does One Man Need" is a parable; in this parable, Pahom has a dream after talking with the Bashkirs about acquiring land. This dream foreshadows what will happen to Pahom as it presents the characters in the dream allegorically: each of these characters has helped Pahom to succumb to temptation, and they have furthered the plan of the Devil mentioned in the exposition.

Each experience that Pahom has had with the respective characters of the dream advances his greed, underscoring the significance of the story's title. In his dream, Pahom travels backward to the origin of his greed for land: the Devil. As he dreams, Pahom envisions the Devil himself

....with hoofs and horns, sitting there and chuckling, and before him lay a man barefoot, prostrate on the ground with only trousers and a shirt on.

Then, Pahom looks and sees that the man is dead. Clearly, this dream is a last subconscious warning to Pahom to arrest his greed. Moreover, the dream symbolically summarizes the entire story.


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