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How Much Land Does a Man Need?

by Leo Tolstoy

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What gives Pahom his first land ownership opportunity in "How Much Land Does a Man Need?"

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A lady living close to the village where Pahom and his family lived was a landowner with a small estate. She decided to sell her estate, and the peasants went to her on behalf of the village council or Commune to see if they could buy it. We are told that the Devil sowed disageement amongst them so they couldn´t agree to buy it together, so each peasant was left to buy bits of the landowner´s land as they could afford.

Pahom decides to buy land because he is becoming jealous of a neighbour who is buying land. He is also driven by frustration because of how the steward of the land where they currently worked was crushing them with fines. So he and his wife go through quite a risky process of raising funds:

They had one hundred rubles laid by. They sold a colt and one half of their bees, hired out one of their sons as a labourer, and took his wages in advance; borrowed the rest from a brother-in-law, and so scraped together half the purchase money.

With this they were able to buy land, with the understanding that they paid the remainder within two years.

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