How Much Land Does A Man Need Summary

Summary for "How Much Land does a Man Need?" by Leo Tolstoy...

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this story, Pahom believes that owning land will solve all of his problems:

“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.

He figures out a way to buy some. He borrows money and purchases land nearby his home. He begins farming his land but before long he is dissatisfied and desires more and more land:

Pahom seeks lands from different sources. He moves his family to a land in which he can obtain 125 acres. There he obtains 125 acres and is ten times better off than he was before, and he is very pleased. 

Later, Pahom beomes dissatisfied and begins desiring better land. He almost clinches a deal in which he can obtain 1300 acres from a man who is in debt. Then he hears about more lush land. Through a traveling peasant from the land of the Bashkirs, Pahom learns of lush land of the Bashkirs. The peasant comes along and entices Pahom with a desire for the lush Bashkir land. Pahom becomes more selfish as the story progresses. He decides to travel to the Bashkir land. He finds that the land is lush and desirable. 

Pahom stikes up a deal with the Bashkirs. He can have all the land he can walk around in one day for a thousand rubles. Pahom agrees to the deal. He starts his day on top of a little hill. The deal is he has to make it back to the starting point by sundown. Pahom tries to encircle more land than he can get around in one day. By sundown, he is running to the starting point. He makes it back to the starting point but collapses and dies at sundown. His servant buries him. Pahom only needs six feet of land:

As the sun comes down, Pahom runs with all his remaining strength to the spot where he began. Reaching it, he sees the chief laughing and holding his sides; he remembers his dream and breathes his last breath. 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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How Much Land Does a Man Need?

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