God Sees the Truth, But Waits

by Leo Tolstoy

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Why doesn't Aksionov wish to return to his family at the end of “God Sees the Truth, But Waits”?

Aksionov doesn't wish to return to his family at the end of “God Sees the Truth, But Waits” because the longing for home has left him. He simply wants his last hour to come as quickly as possible.

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Aksionov has spent twenty-six years in a remote Russian penal colony for a crime he didn't commit. Most people in his position would want nothing more than to return to the bosom of their families, to feel once again the loving warmth of which they were so cruelly deprived by the authorities.

But Aksionov isn't like that. His lengthy period of incarceration has affected him to such an extent that he no longer has any longing for home. Not only that, he has no desire to leave the prison, even though he's completely innocent of any crime.

It would appear that like many prisoners who've spent a long time in jail, Aksionov has become thoroughly institutionalized, a part of the system that has kept him behind bars for over a quarter of a century. As such, the prospect of leaving the confines of prison is rather scary.

But the immediate cause of Aksionov's change of attitude towards wanting to go home is his expression of forgiveness for Makar, the man who committed the murder for which Aksionov was wrongly convicted. It's only when Aksinov tells Makar that God will forgive him and that maybe he, Aksionov, is a hundred times worse, that the longing to go home vanishes.

It seems that Aksionov, though completely innocent of the crime for which he was committed, sees himself as steeped in guilt nonetheless, so much so that he doesn't believe himself worthy of leaving prison and returning to his family.

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