Tuesday, June 22, 2021

How Much Land does a man need

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J. Brotherton once stated, "My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants." Brotherton's words perfectly describe how a people can live their lives without wanting more than they could receive. Leo Tolstoy's classic short story, "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" contradicts Brotherton's words. In the beginning, Pakhom is content to farm the small parcel of land that meets his needs. Nevertheless, the peasant's life progresses through a combination of the devil's temptations, human greed and chance events that lead to an ironic end. His desire to gain more land and comfort consumes him, until a chance that would gain him more land than he would ever-dreamed lures him into a pact with the devil. Certainly, through his use of foreshadowing, characterization, and conflict, Tolstoy reveals to the audience the many negative consequences that greed can have on one's life.

Indeed, Tolstoy incorporates many hints about what may happen in the future of his short story through his use of foreshadowing. For instance, Pakhom inform his wife's older sister that their problems are minute when he says, "There's just one troubletoo little land! If I had all the land I wanted, I wouldn't fear the devil himself." By integrating this into the story, Tolstoy hints to the reader that Pakhom will soon receive new land. Because this line is early in the story, they suggest a wide range of possibilities to the audience. At this point, greed begins to manifest. For a while, Pakhom was happy having ten times as much land, but after a while, it became too little. He soon learns about new land, and the night before he goes to stake it out he has a dream that the devil is sitting over his dead body laughing. Through Pakhom's actions, Tolstoy hints to the reader of events to come while generating feelings of anxiety and stress for the audience. Inevitably, right as he gets to the finish, he sees the Chief sitting and laughing, just as the devil in his dream. A race to encircle as much land as he can in one day concludes as Pakhom wins his prize, but falls dead to the ground from a heart attack. As he collapses and dies at the finish line, "His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for Pakhom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed." Undeniably, Tolstoy's surprises the audience by the play's climax while showing them that greed can lead to mortality.

Certainly, Tolstoy implements characterization to reveal Pakhom's insatiability. Specifically, as Pakhom learns of new and better land, he states, "What's poorest, I'll sell or let to the peasants, and I'll pick out the best to settle on myself. Earlier in the story, Pakhom was content with his family and land, but now his voracity overtakes him. Now that he has the best, he cannot lower himself to mere peasant life again. The reader is able to comprehend that Pakhom is gradually becoming greedier as he acquires more land. However, Pakhom soon realizes his major fault. Pakhom realizes that he wants too much when he says, "I've been too greedy, I've ruined the whole thing, I won't get there by sundown." Even though Tolstoy does not describe Pakhom's physical appearance, the audience still has a good idea about Pakhom's character through his speech and actions. Surely, the reader is able to comprehend how Pakhom moves from thinking that he can obtain anything he desires, to realizing that he has wanted too much. Indeed, the characterization of Pakhom proves to the readers that one's self-indulgence can lead to damaging consequences.

Moreover, Tolstoy unfolds the plot of the short story as the characters deal with conflict. Pakhom struggles internally throughout a majority of the story. For instance, as a rumor went around town that people were moving to new places, Pakhom thought, "I have no reason to leave my land, but as some of us go, there'll be more space. I could take their land, add it to my place; life would be better. It's too crowded now." Not only does Pakhom struggle with his neighbors in order to attain more land, but he also struggles with himself. He tells himself that what he owns is not enough, and that he needs more land. Pakhoms internal conflict is not only an important piece of the plot, but it also entertains the audience; it draws then into the story. Furthermore, when encircling the land, Pakhom fights with himself to keep going when he says, "Lie down and you'll fall asleep." Pakhom is exhausted, but he knows he has to continue or he will not receive the land he desperately desires. The conflict within Pakhom's own mind provides many elements of interest and suspense for the audience. Undeniably, Tolstoy's use of Pakhom's internal conflict reveals to the audience how greediness can consume one's life.

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Without a doubt, Tolstoy's demonstrates how acquisitiveness can ruin one's life through his utilization of figurative language, characterization, and conflict. In the short story, Pakhom abolishes his life because he has too many desires. Ultimately, if a person is never content with what they have in life, they will destroy their lives trying to obtain more for themselves.

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