How Much Land Does a Man Need?

by

Leo Tolstoy

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Pakhom Character Analysis

The protagonist of the story, Pakhom is a peasant farmer turned landowner. Pakhom is at first depicted as a hard-working husband and family man, barely getting by according to society’s standards. Motivated by the elder sister’s criticism of country life and guided by the Devil, however, Pakhom progresses from a poor, yet happy, peasant to a greedy and prideful landowner. As Pakhom gains land and wealth, he becomes increasingly unhappy and, just as his wife predicts, increasingly fearful of losing it all. Although Pakhom claims that with enough land he would “fear no one – not even the Devil himself,” this proves untrue, as his greed is fueled by constant anxiety about returning to peasantry. The character of Pakhom illustrates the social and personal consequences of greed and pride, while simultaneously exposing the dangers of private landownership. He buys more land than he needs and proves unsympathetic to neighboring peasants left with insufficient property to farm and survive; he even fines them for trespassing. Pakhom’s character is largely allegorical, embodying many of the traits and behaviors that lead to the civil unrest and social inequality that plagued nineteenth-century Russia.

Pakhom Quotes in How Much Land Does a Man Need?

The How Much Land Does a Man Need? quotes below are all either spoken by Pakhom or refer to Pakhom. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of How Much Land Does a Man Need? published in 1994.
Chapter 1  Quotes

“l wouldn't care to change my life for yours,” she said. “I admit mine is dull, but at least we have no worries. You live in grander style, but you must do a great deal of business or you’ll be ruined. You know the proverb, ‘Loss is Gain's elder brother.’ One day you are rich and the next you might find yourself out in the street.”

Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

“It's true what you say,” he said. “Take me. Ever since I was a youngster I've been too busy tilling the soil to let that kind of nonsense enter my head. My only grievance is that I don't have enough land. Give me enough of that and I'd fear no one—not even the Devil himself!”

Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

“Good,” he thought. “I'll have a little game with you. I shall see that you have plenty of land and that way I'll get you in my clutches!”

Related Characters: The Devil (speaker), Pakhom
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2  Quotes

They met once, they met twice, but no progress was made: the Devil had set them at loggerheads and there was nothing they could agree upon. In the end they decided to buy the land in separate lots, each according to what he could afford.

Related Characters: Pakhom, The Devil, The Lady Landowner
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

“The land is so fertile,” he said, “that rye grows as high as a horse and it's so thick you can make a whole sheaf from only five handfuls! One peasant arrived with a copeck and only his bare hands to work with and now he has six horses and two cows.”

Related Characters: The Traveling Peasant (speaker), Pakhom, The Devil
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Then they conferred again and started arguing about something. Pakhom asked what it was and the interpreter told him, “Some of them are saying they should first consult the elder about the land. They can't do anything without his permission, but some of the others say it's not necessary.”

Related Characters: Pakhom, The Bashkir Elder, The Bashkirs
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“Thank you for your kind words. Yes, you do have a great deal of land, but I need only a little. However, I would like to be sure which will be mine, so couldn't it be measured and made over to me by some sort of contract? Our lives are in God's hands and although you good people are willing to give me the land now, it's possible your children might want it back again.”

Related Characters: Pakhom (speaker), The Bashkir Elder
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

And then Pakhom saw that it wasn't the peasant, but the Devil himself, with horns and hoofs, sitting there laughing his head off, while before him lay a barefoot man wearing only shirt and trousers. When Pakhom took a closer look he saw that the man was dead and that it was himself.

Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

On and on he went—but there was still a long way to go. He started running and threw away his coat, boots, flask, cap, keeping only the spade which he used for leaning on. “Oh dear,” he thought, “I've been too greedy. Now I've ruined it. I'll never get back by sunset.”

Related Characters: Pakhom (speaker), The Bashkirs
Related Symbols: Pakhom’s Spade
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Although he feared death, he could not stop. “If I stopped now, after coming all this way—well, they'd call me an idiot!” So on he ran until he was close enough to hear the Bashkirs yelling and cheering him on.

Related Characters: Pakhom (speaker), The Bashkirs
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

Pakhom's workman picked up the spade, dug a grave for his master—six feet from head to heel, which was exactly the right length—and buried him.

Related Characters: Pakhom, The Bashkirs, The Workman
Related Symbols: Pakhom’s Spade
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
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Pakhom Character Timeline in How Much Land Does a Man Need?

The timeline below shows where the character Pakhom appears in How Much Land Does a Man Need?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom, the younger sister’s husband, soon joins the debate. He values his life as a peasant... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Nearby, the Devil sits listening to the family’s conversation. He receives Pakhom’s claim as a personal dare and vows to tempt Pakhom with “plenty of land” so... (full context)
Chapter 2 
Class and Society Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
...had always treated the peasants well, her newly hired manager begins to impose fines on Pakhom and the other peasants for minor infractions, such as wandering livestock. (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Pakhom is repeatedly fined by the old soldier until he is nearly broke and so stressed... (full context)
Class and Society Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
...local peasants fear the innkeeper will buy her land, imposing even more fines on them. Pakhom fears that his family will not survive if he continues to be fined. (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Pakhom manages to buy thirty acres of the lady landowner’s estate after securing a personal loan,... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
Pakhom lives happily as a landowner until the peasants begin trespassing in his meadows and cornfields.... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
Pakhom repeatedly fines the local peasants, and they become so angry that they begin to purposefully... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
Although Pakhom has plenty of land, he begins to feel cramped on the commune. He hears rumors... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
In the meantime, a traveling peasant seeks food and lodging at Pakhom’s cottage. The peasant tells Pakhom about a village commune south of the Volga river where... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Pakhom sells his land, home, and cattle for a profit and moves his entire family to... (full context)
Chapter 4
Class and Society Theme Icon
At the new commune, Pakhom is allotted one hundred acres of land, twenty-five acres for each member of his family.... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
It is not long before Pakhom begins to feel cramped at this commune as well. He wants to grow more wheat... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
Pakhom soon grows tired of renting land. He is convinced that owning “freehold” land (property that... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
A bankrupt peasant agrees to sell Pakhom thirteen hundred acres of land for a fair price. However, a passing merchant suddenly appears... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
The merchant tells Pakhom that he has just returned from the far-away land of the Bashkirs, where he had... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Pakhom sets off for the land of the Bashkirs immediately, leaving behind his family and taking... (full context)
Class and Society Theme Icon
...their livestock to wander freely. They happily sit drinking kumiss, simply enjoying each other’s company. Pakhom describes them as kind, ignorant, and speaking no Russian. (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
Through an interpreter, the Bashkirs warmly welcome Pakhom, providing him with a luxurious tent and plenty of kumiss. They slaughter a sheep to... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
The Bashkirs become visibly excited when Pakhom requests land. They claim that Pakhom can have as much land as he would like,... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
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.... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
The elder Bashkir informs Pakhom that there is a set rate for their land, one thousand roubles per day. The... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
The elder Bashkir informs Pakhom that he must return to his starting point by sunset, or he will forfeit all... (full context)
Chapter 7
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom returns to his comfortable tent for the night, excited for his walk the next day... (full context)
Class and Society Theme Icon
Pakhom dreams that he is awake in his tent and hears the Bashkirs laughing. He goes... (full context)
Class and Society Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom’s dream soon takes an even stranger turn, and the traveling peasant transforms into the Devil... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom is startled awake and quickly shakes off the dream. It is nearly sunrise, and he... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom and the Bashkirs gather on small hill and survey the land. Beautiful farmland stretches as... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Pakhom walks a steady pace and digs his first hole after three quarters of a mile.... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Pakhom makes a sharp left turn and continues walking in a new direction. He stops for... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom continues to walk, and just as he is about to turn left again to begin... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
By now, Pakhom has walked over ten miles and marked two of the three sides of his property.... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom finds walking the third side considerably difficult. The sun is high and hot, and his... (full context)
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... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Class and Society Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
Pakhom worries that he may die from exhaustion, but he fears that the Bashkirs will laugh... (full context)
Death and Pride Theme Icon
As Pakhom reaches the bottom of the hill from where he began, it suddenly becomes dark. From... (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)