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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How Much Land Does a Man Need, is a classic example of the greed inside a man' heart. The issue of how greedy people are, is as old as time. Pahom's story is one of how a man's own greediness ruins his whole life.

Pahom believes that if he can own enough land, he has nothing to fear. He fears the devil, but believes when he can acquire all the land he needs, the devil won't scare him anymore. He is made a deal that he can own all the land he can walk and mark, if he returns to the starting point by sundown. Pahom is so consumed with owning land and beating the devil, he lets the greed in his heart overtake him. He walks the land and starts marking it. The more land he owns, the more greedy he becomes. He makes his neighbors angry, so he decides he needs more land. He attains more and more land to grow his crops, but lets his heart become hardened. Eventually Pahom goes to obtain more land and runs all day in the sun. He marks all the land he wants and runs back just before sundown. Having been in the hot sun all day, Pahom dies from exhaustion. In the end, it is shown that all the land a man needs is enough to bury him in. 

Leo Tolstoy really shows that when a person allows greed to overtake them, then we all fall prey to the devil. When we are never satisfied with what we have, then trying to obtain what we believe will make us happy, usually ends up killing us. This story is all about what greed can do to a person. Tolstoy gave us this story as a lesson about what really lies at the heart of each of us. The greed that Pahom had for possession of land, ends up killing him.