How Much Land Does a Man Need?

by

Leo Tolstoy

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Pakhom’s Spade Symbol Analysis

Pakhom’s Spade Symbol Icon

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?

The How Much Land Does a Man Need? quotes below all refer to the symbol of Pakhom’s Spade. 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 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

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’s Spade Symbol Timeline in How Much Land Does a Man Need?

The timeline below shows where the symbol Pakhom’s Spade appears in How Much Land Does a Man Need?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
...of bread, and secures a flask to his belt. He makes sure to grab the spade before setting off in the direction of the rising sun. (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
...hollow perfect for growing flax. He continues through the hollow, making his way with the spade. (full context)
Chapter 9
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
The Corrupting Nature of Greed Theme Icon
God, the Devil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Death and Pride Theme Icon
...runs to his body, and realizing that Pakhom is dead, he buries him using the spade. (full context)