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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to the eNotes Summary the basic problem in Tolstoy's story is this:

Pahom can have all the land that he can walk around in a day for one thousand rubles. The one condition is that if he does not return on the same day to the spot at which he began, the money will be lost. 

Pahom has become so greedy for more and more land that he keeps extending his walk to include various attractive sites where there are trees or running water or something else he covets. Then when he realizes it is getting late and he has to go back to the spot where he began, he is already tired and he forces himself to hurry beyond his endurance. He has almost made it back to where the Bashkirs are waiting to welcome him when he collapses and dies of exhaustion and an apparent sunstroke. The moral of the story is that greed is self-destructive. A man should be satisfied with what he really needs. By trying to acquire more land than he can possibly use, Pahom is making land more difficult for others to acquire. He plans on exploiting other people by selling his excess land to them at a profit. His punishment is justly deserved.