How Much Land Does A Man Need Summary

What is the summary of "How Much Land Does a Man Need"?


epollock | Student


In this parable by Leo Tolstoy, Pahom, a Russina peasant, overhears his wife and her sister arguing the merits of farm life versus city life. He boasts to himself that if he just had enough land, he would not even fear the Devil.

The Devil hears the boast and plans to exploit Pahom's greed. Pahom soon succeed in buying land, yet he quickly grows dissatisfied. He treats the local peasants as badly as he was once treated, and he continues to acquire more land.

When a traveling dealer tells Pahom about the region of the Bashkirs, where fertile land is available at low prices, Pahom travels there with his savings--100 thousand Rubles.

The Bashkirs welcome him and agree to sell, for a thousand Rubles, as much land as he can walk off in a day, as long as he returns before sunset to his starting point.

Pahom walks a great distance, trying to encircle as much land as possible. In his mad rush to the starting point, however, he collapses and dies.  He ends up with six feet of land--enough for his grave. 

nitishshah10 | Student
In this story, Pahom believes that owning land will solve all of his problems: “If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!” The devil, overhearing this boast, decides to give Pahom his wish, seducing him with the extra land that Pahom thinks will give him security. He figures out a way to buy some. He borrows money and purchases land nearby his home. He begins farming his land but before long he is dissatisfied and desires more and more land: Pahom seeks lands from different sources. He moves his family to a land in which he can obtain 125 acres. There he obtains 125 acres and is ten times better off than he was before, and he is very pleased. Later, Pahom beomes dissatisfied and begins desiring better land. He almost clinches a deal in which he can obtain 1300 acres from a man who is in debt. Then he hears about more lush land. Through a traveling peasant from the land of the Bashkirs, Pahom learns of lush land of the Bashkirs. The peasant comes along and entices Pahom with a desire for the lush Bashkir land. Pahom becomes more selfish as the story progresses. He decides to travel to the Bashkir land. He finds that the land is lush and desirable. Pahom stikes up a deal with the Bashkirs. He can have all the land he can walk around in one day for a thousand rubles. Pahom agrees to the deal. He starts his day on top of a little hill. The deal is he has to make it back to the starting point by sundown. Pahom tries to encircle more land than he can get around in one day. By sundown, he is running to the starting point. He makes it back to the starting point but collapses and dies at sundown. His servant buries him. Pahom only needs six feet of land: As the sun comes down, Pahom runs with all his remaining strength to the spot where he began. Reaching it, he sees the chief laughing and holding his sides; he remembers his dream and breathes his last breath. Pahom’s servant picks up the spade with which Pahom had been marking his land and digs a grave in which to bury him: “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”
kittmanch | Student


Pahom is a poor man who proclaims to himself that if he had enough land he would not even fear the Devil. The Devil, of course, hears this and decides to give him land without him knowing. Pahom took the chance for land, and loved it at first. But then he became tired and wanted more. As the story went on, he bought more and more land, and grew tired, and moved and bought even more. Finally he came to the Bashkirs, a family with a huge amount of land. They tell him that, if he pays, he can have all the land he likes, provided he can walk the perimeter of it before sunset. He walked very far out, and as he was heading back around he realized that the sun was setting. He ran as hard as he could, but the running was too much, and just as he reached the destination he died from overexertion. And so how much does a man need? Six feet from his feet to his head.

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How Much Land Does a Man Need?

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