How Much Land Do You Really Need?

By Yvonne C., 8th Grade

October 2017

In his short story “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” Leo Tolstoy uses foreshadowing, figurative language, and irony to communicate how easily men fall to temptation. While Pahom is at the Bashkirs, he dreams of all the men who told him about the fertile land that he can easily attain. “Then he saw…the Devil himself with hooves and horns sitting there and chuckling, and before him lay a man barefoot…and he saw that the man was dead and that it was himself”(Tolstoy 8). This dream foreshadows how Pahom will die because he falls into the traps the Devil sets for him. Though Pahom has this dream, the next day he wakes up early and still goes out to get more land than he can sow. In his dream, Pahom sees himself lying on the ground dead, but his greed clouds his judgement. When the sun is about to set and Pahom is still a distance away from the hillock, Pahom keeps running. “His breast was working like a blacksmith’s bellows, his heart was beating like a hammer, and his legs were giving way as if they didn’t belong to him”(Tolstoy 11). This passage illustrates Pahom trying his best to run back to the hillock before sundown. Tolstoy paints an image of a man who is about to collapse and die because of exhaustion. These similes compare Pahom to a machine that is unable to make rational decisions as he lets his greed for land and money get the best of him. Eventually, Pahom collapes as he reaches the hillock right before sundown. The Bashkirs applaud for him but then realise he has died. “His servant… dug a grave long enough for Pahom to lie in…six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed”(Tolstoy 11). This quotation reveals how Pahom did not need all that land he wanted. Ironically, the servant only needs 6 feet to bury Pahom, but he thought he needed many more acres.