Tolstoy's "God Sees the Truth, But Waits " tells the story of a man who is framed for a crime and condemned for a murder he did not commit. This reflects one of the most significant imperfections of the judicial system: that the innocent can be wrongfully found guilty...
Tolstoy's "God Sees the Truth, But Waits" tells the story of a man who is framed for a crime and condemned for a murder he did not commit. This reflects one of the most significant imperfections of the judicial system: that the innocent can be wrongfully found guilty and convicted. Aksionov ends up spending twenty-six years in a Siberian prison camp before his innocence is discovered, by which point too much time has passed and he has nowhere to return to outside the prison.
What is particularly noteworthy about this situation was the lack of obvious corruption on the part of the judicial system itself. This was not a situation where the investigators were driven by malice: from their perspective, the evidence against Aksionov was conclusive, and they acted accordingly. Nor was this a Les Misérables type situation, where the punishment vastly outweighed the crime: Aksionov, in this case, was condemned for murder. Tolstoy's critique, thus, is one that looks all the more deeply into the fundamental nature of human justice itself: it will always be imperfect. No matter how enlightened our laws might become, or how strict we make our tests against human error and corruption, the innocent will always be sorted with the guilty.
At the same time, it is also noteworthy that the failure is not just an institutional one, but a personal one as well. It is not only the investigators that are convinced of Aksionov's guilt, but so too are his closest friends. People that have known him for all his life are swayed by the evidence against him. Even his own wife doubts his innocence. Again, these details reflect these deeper concerns with human error, and how injustice can stem from even among the well intentioned. Thus, Aksionov determines that he can only appeal to God, who alone would know the truth of his innocence (an idea reflected in the story's title).