The Desire for More, the Desire for Death

By , pittsburgh, PA
The Desire for More, the Desire for Death
The setting in a story is the most significant part, because it helps the reader determine the theme of the story. The setting of the story sets the tone throughout the rest of the novel. In “How Much Land Does a Man Need? “,by Leo Tolstoy and “The Rocking Horse Winner ”, by D.H. Lawrence, the setting helps the reader become more aware that the characters are living in an older time period, nineteenth century in England and Russia. “There was a grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up” (Lawrence 1). Without the setting the reader would not be able to understand the outcome of either of these stories. In both stories, the setting fosters greed in the main characters, and the theme in both stories indicates the deadly consequences of that greed.

In “How much Land does a Man Need?” the setting upholds the structure of how this story might end and gives clues toward discovering the theme. The setting in this story indicates that Pahom is a peasant who does not have much money or land for farming, until one day when Pahom subconsciously makes a deal with the devil himself, and begins to become greedy. Once Pahom begins to buy land, he feels the need to get more and more, almost as “to say one hundred and twenty five acres isn’t enough” (Tolstoy 756) for him. This quote shows the reader just how much land her actually was after because he saw what his neighbors had. Therefore, the theme of this story would be, the more land or money that a person has will not make them happier and the more money or land a person gets will make them become hungry for more money. At the end of the story, Pahom dies of over exertion and gets buried with his own shovel. So, it is made known to the reader that in the end all the land Pahom needed was six feet down. He is literally buried by his greed.
In “The Rocking Horse Winner” the settings portrays to the reader that this is a middle class family in an old English time period, when money was a sign of social status. The more money a person acquires, the more they desire additional wealth. The mother’s vocal thoughts of greed for money begin to drive her son to insanity. He hears every night “There must be more money, more than ever! More than ever!”(Lawrence 7). Since the setting made the reader aware that the characters live in an older time period when money was tight, the reader better understands that the mother was obsessed with having more money and upholding their high looking social position. This indicates the theme because the mothers desire for more wealthy had been metaphorically spilled onto her son, Paul and he just wants his mother to love him. Therefore, he would do anything to get her love, even if it cost him his life.
Both of these stories exemplify similar themes and settings. The time period in both of the stories both takes place in the nineteenth century however in “The Rocking Horse Winner” the story takes place in nineteenth century England and in “How Much Land does a Man Need?” the story takes place in nineteenth century Russia. In “The Rocking Horse Winner” Paul is betting on horse races in hopes that he will win money for his mother. “I’m a lucky person” (Lawrence 2), he exclaimed in hopes to win his mother’s love; for “Luck is what causes you to have money” ( Lawrence 1). This quote is very significant because the reader really gets a look at what the mother really thinks of money and why it is so important to her. In “How Much Land does a Man Need?”, Pahom is land hungry. He wants to buy more and more land and in the end it all doesn’t matter because all “the land he needed was six feet from his head to his heals” (Tolstoy 762).For the most part, the stories are quite different; however the theme that “the more land or money one has will result in an even great desire for more money or land, and can result in death” is the same for both short stories.
In both stories, the setting fosters greed in the main characters, and the theme in both stories indicates the deadly consequences of that greed. The characters portrayed in “The Rocking Horse Winner” and “How much Land does a Man need?” are of the lower and middle class and begin to become greedy and their greed resulted in the death of the mothers’ son, Paul and Phamom. Therefore, the setting in both of the stories helps the reader determine the theme of a story and develop the imagery of the story.





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