Pakhom’s spade symbolizes his greed in “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” A common tool, the elder Bashkir insists that Pakhom take the spade to mark his progress throughout his walk of the Bashkirs’ land—essential mapping out the extent of his greed. Pakhom uses the spade to dig hole after hole as he goes, claiming his new land. Even as Pakhom’s body begins to deteriorate under the stress of the walk and the heat of the sun, and he fears he will not make it back to his starting point before the sun sets, he refuses to drop the spade, instead clinging to this physical symbol of his potential wealth. Growing further concerned he will lose his land, Pakhom starts running, tossing away his clothing but notably “keeping only the spade which he used for leaning on.” His greed, here, is propping him up and propelling him toward his dark end. When Pakhom immediately dies of exhaustion after returning to the starting point, the workman digs his grave with the spade, further reflecting its position as a marker of the destructive force of greed. Pakhom’s greed is what has buried him.
Pakhom’s Spade Quotes in How Much Land Does a Man Need?
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.”
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.