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How Much Land Does A Man Need Theme Explained

Published on October 11th, 2023 | Last updated on October 12th, 2023 by | Category: English Short Stories | No Comments on How Much Land Does A Man Need Theme Explained | 139 Views | Reading Time: 6 minutes

How Much Land Does A Man Need Theme and plot summary written by Dr. Mohammad Hossein Hariri Asl and narrated by the author

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How Much Land Does A Man Need Theme

This realistic story begins with an encounter between two sisters in a village. As they met each other, they embarked upon boasting about what they possessed. Meanwhile, Pahom, the protagonist, who was a poor farmer and the younger sister’s husband, overheard the women’s chatter and felt bitterly humiliated on account of his destitution. So he made up his mind to make major changes for the better in their financial conditions.

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The concept of greed reflected in How Much Land Does A Man Need Theme

There was an old landowner who had employed a soldier to burden the peasants with high levels of taxation. As a consequence, the peasants were all under excruciating pressure. In the meantime, this rumor went round that the landowner was going to sell a large proportion of her estate to a supposedly merciless innkeeper. Consequently, the peasants put their heads together to buy the estate collectively, in fear of higher taxation solicited by the innkeeper. Nevertheless, the ranchers failed to reach an agreement; accordingly, they intended to buy the land individually.

Pahom and his wife gave it their best shot and sold all they had so that they could manage to buy 40 acres of the estate. From that time forward, Pahom bent over backwards to plant and harvest on his own land successfully. In the intervening time, this rumor was spread that many people were moving to new parts byond the Volga where there were myriads of fertile pieces of land. Pahom began to cast covetous eyes on that land; as a result, he sold all his belongings and bought approximately 150 acres of farmland in that area.

The theme of covet and avarice explained in this short story

Pahom had developed an insatiable appetite for having more land, so even this amount of land did NOT satisfy him. Meanwhile, he went greedy for the vast estate belonging to the Bashkirs. Thus, he left his wife and set off for the area with a hired person. The Bashkirs were as simple as sheep. Pahom pulled the wool over their eyes by offering them something pleasant but inexpensive. And now it was high time to scratch his back in return.

In the end, they made a deal. Pahom could own the freehold of as much land as he longed for at the cost of merely 1,000 rubles in a day on this condition that he made a circuit of his property reaching for the spot where he started from dawn to dusk. He was allowed to use a spade to dig holes and pile turfs in order to make the circuit of his land more conspicuous.

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The concept of avarice or greed in How Much Land Does A Man Need theme

During the night, he dreamt about the Bashkir chief. As he was approaching him, all of a sudden, the chief disappeared and right behind him, the grain dealer came into view. While Pahom was struggling to reach him, the grain dealer vanished and the old dealer came into sight. As the protagonist was getting closer, the old dealer, whom Pahom had met before his immigration, faded away, too but this time, Pahom was confronted with the Devil with his cleft hoofs. Then at the dead of night, Pahom stood transfixed at the sight of his own cadaver just next to the Devil.

On the following day, overlooking the premonition, Pahom started on his journey towards the east. He didn’t even eat breakfast. It was going hotter and hotter and he was sweating like a pig. Although he was dead exhausted, he thought that his land might look lopsided, so he extended his direction in straight lines. In point of fact, he was spreading himself too thin.

Strive - English Flashcard for Strive - LELB Society
Strive or spread oneself too thin to get what you long for

His bare feet were cut and bruised and he walked with difficulty. As the sun was close to the horizon, Pahom was quite close to his destination, too. Though he was moribund, he couldn’t stop keeping on. In the end, as he reached for the top of the hill, he noticed the Bashkir chief sneering at him exactly as he had dreamt about.

As the servant was heading towards Pahom to help him, he saw that blood was flowing from his master’s mouth. Only Pahom’s corpse could reach for the marked spot. The servant picked up the same spade and dug a grave long enough for Pahom and buried him in it. “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”

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