Tolstoy did not believe that human life was futile. In his later years he came to believe that the best life was one of Christian humility and simplicity. His story "How Much Land Does a Man Require" shows the futility of human greed. The protagonist is to gain possession of all the land he can walk around in one day. His greed for land lures him into walking farther and farther in order to encompass desirable woods, pastures, and other attractive areas. Because of his greediness he finds himself too far away from the point that would represent the enclosure of all the land he was attempting to encircle in one day. His anxiety and exertion kill him and he is buried in just six feet of earth. The whole story illustrates how foolish people can be when they try to be too important and to acquire too much. Tolstoy uses the same theme in another simple story titled "What Men Live By." Tolstoy's whole philosophy in his later life is pretty much exemplified in the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Matthew in the New Testament. He himself gave up his privileged position as a Russian nobleman and worked as a cobbler and a teacher of peasant children.
The story expresses man's greed in the form of Pakhom's actions-the way he strives for more everything one of his desires are fulfilled.