The short story "God Sees the Truth, But Waits" by Leo Tolstoy tells of a young merchant named Aksionov who is unjustly convicted of a murder. For the supposed crime, he is sent off to a hard labor camp in Siberia, where he meets the man who actually...
The short story "God Sees the Truth, But Waits" by Leo Tolstoy tells of a young merchant named Aksionov who is unjustly convicted of a murder. For the supposed crime, he is sent off to a hard labor camp in Siberia, where he meets the man who actually committed the crime. Aksionov's piety causes the man to truly repent of his misdeed.
Aksionov does have a spiritual transformation in the story, and, interestingly enough, it is when things seem darkest. After the police arrest him and he is thrown into prison, his wife and children come to visit him, and even his wife implies that she thinks he is guilty. When she leaves, Aksionov realizes that only God can know the truth in any situation and only God can grant mercy. At this point, Tolstoy writes,
And Aksionov wrote no more petitions, gave up all hope, and only prayed to God.
Aksionov remains a convict in Siberia for twenty-six years. His hair turns white, he loses his strength, he no longer laughs, but he continues to pray. He reads a book called The Lives of the Saints and goes to church on Sundays. He is respected not only by his fellow prisoners but also by the prison authorities.
When Aksionov realizes that the real murderer, convicted of a different crime, has come to his camp in Siberia, he has a strong desire for vengeance. However, he does not turn his nemesis in when the authorities find an escape tunnel he has dug. When the governor of the prison questions him, Aksionov only declares that he cannot say because it is not God's will. Seeing Aksionov's sincerity and piety, the murderer confesses so that Aksionov can be released, but by the time the release order comes, Aksionov has died.
We see, then, that Aksionov has a spiritual transformation early in his ordeal, and it is his religion that sustains him through twenty-six years of suffering in the Siberian prison camp.