How Much Land Does a Man Need?

by

Leo Tolstoy

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How Much Land Does a Man Need?: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Pakhom finds walking the third side considerably difficult. The sun is high and hot, and his bare feet are cut and bruised. He is exhausted, but the waning sun reminds him that there is no time to rest.
Pakhom’s body continues to deteriorate, yet his greed and the approaching deadline spur him on. He is willing to risk death to secure more land.
Themes
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom worries that he has been too greedy. Making it back in time seems impossible, and he throws off his excess clothes, including his boots, flask, and cap. He grabs the spade and begins to run back to his starting point.
For the first time, Pakhom acknowledges his greed, yet it makes little difference in his behavior. He removes the last of his clothes, now appearing exactly has he had in his dream, but he still does not stop. Strangely, as he lightens his load, he leaves behind his water and keeps the spade. In this way, Pakhom’s greed causes him to choose death over life, as the spade enables him to mark more land along the way, compounding his exhaustion and leading to his death. 
Themes
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom worries that he may die from exhaustion, but he fears that the Bashkirs will laugh and call him foolish for taking so much land if he is unable to complete his walk. He can hear the Bashkirs cheering him on from the starting point, and their yells give him additional strength. Running on, Pakhom still fears he will not make it in time.
Pakhom’s greed is further fueled by his pride. Even as he is faced with death, he cannot bring himself to stop and face the Bashkirs as a failure, and a peasant. As the Bashkirs cheer him on, Pakhom is more focused on them than he is on his own desperate situation and his impending death. 
Themes
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Related Quotes
As Pakhom reaches the bottom of the hill from where he began, it suddenly becomes dark. From his position at the foot of the hill, it appears that the sun has set. He considers stopping, but he hears the continued cheers of the Bashkirs from the top of the hill. The sun has not yet set on the Bashkirs.
Even when Pakhom believes he has lost the land and the sun has set, he still refuses to stop and rest. Pakhom’s pride and the cheers of the Bashkirs drive him up the hill, even though it seems unlikely that he can outrun the setting sun.
Themes
Death and Pride Theme Icon
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At the top of the hill, the elder Bashkir sits by his fox-fur cap, laughing. Suddenly, Pakhom remembers his strange dream from the night before, and just as he reaches the cap, his legs give way. Pakhom drops dead from exhaustion, blood dripping from his mouth. His workman runs to his body, and realizing that Pakhom is dead, he buries him using the spade.
Pakhom finally realizes his dream was a warning, but it’s too late. Overwhelmed by his greed and pride, Pakhom is blind to the efforts of the Devil, and he pays with his life. Having left his family behind, only the workman is with Pakhom when he dies, who uses the spade to dig one last hole. Pakhom’s untimely death underscores the grave consequences of pride and greed.
Themes
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Related Quotes