How Much Land Does a Man Need?

by

Leo Tolstoy

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How Much Land Does a Man Need?: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Pakhom returns to his comfortable tent for the night, excited for his walk the next day and is unable to sleep. Just before dawn, Pakhom drifts off and has a strange and ominous dream.
Pakhom experiences his dream just before dawn, the time of night typically considered to be the darkest. This is a perfect time for evil to appear.
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Pakhom dreams that he is awake in his tent and hears the Bashkirs laughing. He goes outside and sees the Bashkir elder, holding his side and laughing hysterically. On closer inspection, Pakhom realizes that it is not the elder at all, but the passing merchant who had told him about the Bashkir land. Suddenly, the merchant turns into the traveling peasant who informed Pakhom of the commune south of the Volga river.
Each of the three men Pakhom sees in his dream are connected in some way to his past land transactions—and, as the reader knows, are all different embodiments of the Devil. The fact that the Bashkirs are laughing hysterically implies that Pakhom is unknowingly the center of an ongoing joke.
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Pakhom’s dream soon takes an even stranger turn, and the traveling peasant transforms into the Devil himself, complete with horns and hoofs, laughing. Pakhom discovers that his own dead body is at the foot of the devil, wearing only shirt and trousers, without shoes.
The Devil reveals his identity to Pakhom in his dream. As each of the Devil’s disguises led Pakhom to purchase land, Tolstoy draws a direct parallel between evil and land ownership.
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Related Quotes
Pakhom is startled awake and quickly shakes off the dream. It is nearly sunrise, and he goes to wake the Bashkirs. They assemble and offer Pakhom more kumiss, but he declines, anxious to start his walk.
Despite serving as an explicit warning of his own death, Pakhom ignores his dream. He is impatient to begin his walk and secure more land, suggesting that his greed outpaces all other desires and concerns—even for his own safety. Significantly, Pakhom refuses offers of kumiss, a symbol of good health and life. 
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