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