Tuesday, January 19, 2021

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 1 | Lesson 3 God Sees the Truth but Waits | Leo Tolstoy


NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 3 God Sees the Truth but Waits | Leo Tolstoy

God Sees the Truth but Waits


The story follows a merchant named Ivan Dmitrich Aksionov who lives in the town of Vladimir with two shops and a house of his own. He used to drink alcohol, but after marriage he sometimes does so. As he prepares to go to the Nizhny Fair one summer, his wife urges him not to leave the family telling that she had a nightmare in which he left for the fair and returned with gray hair. He ignores his wife's dream and leaves for the fair.

Aksionov meets a fellow merchant on his way to the fair. They spend the evening at the inn. Aksionov wakes up early to get to the fair without the other merchant. When he goes about twenty-five miles, he stops for the horses to be fed and a rest. He is approached by a few policemen. They explain that the merchant was murdered and robbed. They search Aksionov's luggage. They find a blood stained knife. Despite Aksionov's claim that he is not the murderer, he is sent to jail.

Aksionov's wife with children comes to visit him in jail. She becomes unconscious seeing her husband in prison clothes and fetters. After she comes to her senses, she informs Aksionov that an appeal to the Czar has been rejected. Aksionov is shocked when she asks him whether he actually committed the murder for which he has been arrested. His wife’s suspicion of his guilt makes him conclude that he can rely on God alone to know the truth. He is flogged and sent to a Siberian labor camp. Remaining there for 26 years, he loses his youthful cheerfulness and becomes deeply religious.

A new group of convicts arrives at the Siberian prison. One of them, Makar Semyonich, has been imprisoned for stealing a horse from a sledge. After overhearing conversations, Aksionov is certain that Semyonich is the man who was responsible for the crime for which he was blamed. One night, he discovers Semyonich digging an escape hole. The next day, the authorities find out the hole. The Governor comes and asks the prisoners who is trying to escape. Aksionov does not wish to see Makar being flogged. He tells the Governor that he knows nothing about who dug the hole.

The following night Aksionov finds Semyonich sitting at the foot of his bunk. Semyonich, overwhelmed by Aksyonov’s goodness in protecting him from the Governor, confesses to having framed him for murder 26 years before and begs his forgiveness. Semyonich offers to admit his guilt to the authorities and thereby forgive Aksionov. He dies shortly before the authorities order him to be released.

Understanding the text

Answer these questions.

a. What bad habits did Aksionov have before his marriage?
Before his marriage he used to drink and was riotous when he had too much.

b. What can be the meaning of his wife's dream?
Her dream is a premonition of terrible fate that awaits Aksionov.

c. Why did Aksionov think of killing himself?
In his mind, he saw the place where he was flogged, the executioner, and the people standing around; the chains, the convicts, all the twenty-six years of his prison life, and his premature old age. This thought made him feel so bad that he was ready to kill himself.

d. Why did Makar disclose that he had killed the merchant?
Makar ........ because he wanted to make Aksionov release from the prison.

e. Why doesn't Aksionov wish to return to his family at the end of the story?
Aksionov doesn't wish to return to his family at the end of the story because he believes that his wife was dead, and his children have forgotten him.

Reference to the context



i. Aksionov

ii. the truth of digging an escape hole

iii. wall of the prison

b. Describe Aksionov's character.

Aksionov is the protagonist of the story. He is a successful young merchant whose comfortable life is disrupted when he is framed for murder and sent to Siberian prison camp. His wife’s suspicion of his guilt makes him conclude that he can rely on God alone to know the truth. He earns a reputation as a good person among the prison officials and fellow prisoners. After finding himself imprisoned with the man who framed him, Aksionov is ready to kill himself. However, at the end of the story he is able to forgive Semyonich. He dies shortly before the authorities order him to be released.

c. What is the theme of the story?

The story has the theme of injustice, acceptance, faith and forgiveness. The case against Aksionov is not convincing. The government authorities without establishing motive or recovering a bloody knife and twenty thousand rubles stolen from the merchant declare him guilty. When his wife's appeal to the Czar is rejected, Aksionov accepts that the injustice to which he is subjected is impossible to correct. He devotes himself to God to offer him the justice that man can’t give him. In prison, Aksionov converts himself into a humble and religious figure. Officials and prisoners respect him for his impartiality in resolving arguments. Aksionov's faith in God is so strong that he believes he must be sinful to deserve the torturous life God has given him. After Aksionov is unwilling to inform on Semyonich's tunnel-digging, Semyonich is shaken by Aksionov's mercy. Aksionov finally grants Semyonich forgiveness.

d. Which symbols are used in the story and what do they indicate?

The story offers several symbols for its artistic expression that supersedes flat writing. Aksionov’s house and two shops represent his family and material possessions. The prison itself is a symbol of Aksionov’s suffering and final spiritual transformation. His gray hair emerges as a clear symbol of his suffering, highlighting not only his aging but also his physical decay resulting from punishment. His grey hair suggests how the stress of his wrongful imprisonment prematurely ages him. The blood stained knife unpredictably found in Aksionov's bag works as the crucial piece of evidence required to convict him. This knife symbolizes Aksionov's lack of control over his fate. The book ‘The Lives of the Saints’ Aksionov buys represents his religious devotion.

Reference beyond the text

a. What role does religion play in Aksionov's life? How does he undergo a spiritual transformation in the story?

Christianity plays an important role in Aksionov’s life. He spends his entire life in a Siberian prison expecting for the right judgement of God. His wife’s suspicion of his guilt makes him conclude that he can rely on God alone to know the truth and to offer mercy. Imprisoned for 26 years, he loses his youthful cheerfulness and becomes deeply religious. He devotes his life to God. In prison, Aksionov learns to make boots, and earns a little money, with which he buys the book ‘The Lives of the Saints’ and reads it. On Sundays in the prison-church he reads the lessons and sings in the choir. The prison authorities even like him for his humbleness. His fellow-prisoners respects him calling him ‘Grandfather’ and ‘The Saint’. By the time the real killer of the merchant arrives in prison, Askionov is able to forgive him. At the end of the story, he has no desire to return home but to be with God.

Aksionov’s spiritual transformation is remarkable in the story. Before the imprisonment he is care free and enjoys materialistic life. Despite Aksionov’s rejection of the legitimacy of the state that has jailed him, he realizes that the reason he is suffering in Siberia is to pay for his sins. Aksionov considers his miseries as a test of faith that gives him a chance to achieve salvation by reforming his character and devoting his life to God.


  1. Aw🥺 really thank you sir

  2. thanks a lots sir for your kind help

  3. Where is the answer of question no b of reference beyond the text

  4. Too much adv difficult to read

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