How Much Land Does a Man Need?

by

Leo Tolstoy

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How Much Land Does a Man Need?: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While the Bashkirs continue to argue, the elder Bashkir suddenly appears. They all stand at attention as he enters, and Pakhom presents him with five pounds of tea and his best robe. Unlike the other Bashkirs, the elder speaks to Pakhom in Russian.
The elder Bashkir commands respect and, speaking Russian, is less ignorant than the others in Pakhom’s eyes. Once again, the Devil has disguised himself—posing as the elder, he directly inserts himself into Pakhom’s life to further influence his sinful behavior.
Themes
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
The elder Bashkir confirms that Pakhom may have his pick of as much land as he wants, yet Pakhom is dubious. Without a formal contract, Pakhom fears that the Bashkirs may dispute his ownership later, since their lives are, after all, “in God’s hands.” The elder agrees to provide Pakhom with a contract to ensure ownership.  
Pakhom can hardly believe his luck, and he questions the validity of the deal, thinking it too good to be true. How can he be sure that future generations of Bashkirs won’t want the land back? According to Pakhom, the future is out of their hands, and God has complete control.
Themes
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The elder Bashkir informs Pakhom that there is a set rate for their land, one thousand roubles per day. The Bashkirs sell land based on how much ground a buyer can cover in one day. The amount of land Pakhom can walk around in one day is his for the price of one thousand roubles.
The Bashkirs’ method of selling land exacerbates Pakhom’s greed—he likely believes that he will be able to cover a large amount of land and buy even more property than he imagined.
Themes
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
The elder Bashkir informs Pakhom that he must return to his starting point by sunset, or he will forfeit all the land. He also insists that Pakhom carry a spade to mark his perimeter along the way. Pakhom instantly agrees to the terms and they celebrate with more kumiss, tea, and mutton.
The Bashkirs’ land deal is a test of Pakhom’s greed. If he attempts to take too much, he will end up with nothing. The elder Bashkir wishes Pakhom luck and good health in the form of more kumiss and also introduces the spade, which later becomes a symbol of Pakhom’s death.   
Themes
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
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