GOD SEES THE TRUTH, BUT WAITS
Leo Tolstoy Russia About the author:
Leo Tolstoy was born in 1928 in Tula Province, Russian. A master of realistic fiction and one of the world’s greatest novelists, Tolstoy is best known for his finest novels: and Peace (1865 69) and Anna Karenina (1875 – 77). His shorter works include Ellie Death of Ivan Ilyich, The Living Corpse and The Kingdom of God is within You, in his last three decades, Tolstoy worked as a moral and religious teacher, an embodiment of nature and pure vitality. Though dead now, his soul lives as a living symbol of the search for life’s meaning.
Episodes / sub-episodes
- Aksionov’s excursion for a Trade Fair at Nizhny. (p68 – 69).
- Aksionov’s arrest and 26-year imprisonment. (p69 71).
- The coincidental encounter with the real killer. (p71 – 72).
- Makar’s confession. (p73 74).
God Sees the Truth but Waits is a parabolic story about Ivan Dmitritch Aksionov, a meek young merchant with two shops in Vladimir, Russia.
Ivan bids his family and sets out on a Trade Fair in Nizhny despite his wife’s premonition through a dream. Midway through the journey, he meets another merchant, and they put up at the same inn for the night. A rogue thug kills the merchant at night and flees, leaving his blood-stained knife in Aksionov’s bag. Aksionov is arrested on suspicion and is sent to ‘Siberia’ for twenty-six years. On enquiry about his character, Vladimir people say that Ivan is now good after he stopped drinking.
However, even his wife now doubts him! Coincidentally, the rogue murderer, Makar Semyonich, is brought to prison for a minor offence, and Aksionov is severely disturbed by his presence that he feels like killing himself.
Makar commits another offence in prison, and Aksionov finds him, but the man begs him to keep quiet and not betray him, or he will kill him. Aksionov tells him he had killed him long ago, and he will do as God shall direct.
When the Governor implores Aksionov to tell him the truth about the prison offence, for he trusts only him, Aksionov refuses and tells him he can do what he
likes with him as he is in his hands. At night the killer, Makar, confesses and begs Aksionov to forgive him.
As Makar sobs, Aksionov weeps, for he has no desire to leave the prison. When the order for his release comes, Aksionov is already dead.
Title of the story
- How relevant is the title of the story, God Sees the Truth, but Waits?
- Why do you think Aksionov refuses to tell the truth about the prison incident?
- Do you think the Governor is to blame for Aksionov’s prolonged imprisonment?
- What is the impact of Ivan Aksionov’s faith in God on his life?
- Why is Ivan reticent to go back home?
- Explore and analyze the existence of the following themes in God Sees the Truth, but Waits.
- Mistaken identity.
- Crime and Confession
- Wrongful conviction and imprisonment. iv. The concept and context of truth.
- Justice delayed is justice denied.
- Betrayal and Tolerance
Wrongful conviction and imprisonment.
The values of honesty, truth and justice are tested through this story.
- Aksionov comes out to question the essence of these values if he suffers in the prison caves of Siberia under wrongful conviction and subsequent incarceration for twenty-six years. (p71).
- Mistaken identity runs through this story. Ivan Dmitritch is arrested for spending a night with an acquaintance a fellow merchant at the inn who leaves before dawn.
- This is because the merchant is killed during the night by a thug who hides the knife in Ivan’s bags. This is what makes the police officer arrest him on suspicion. (p69, 70).
- At the story’s beginning, Aksionov is characterized by dynamic character and setting. He is lost in liquor but later starts a business and owns two shops. (p68).
- He leaves and loses his home, family and his freedom. This story sends the message that none of these things matters in the long run.
The concept and context of truth.
- Aksionov learns the hard way that when the chips are down, nothing remains except God at his side, who knows the truth. (p73).
- Truth depends on context. It is true that the bloody knife is found in his bags and that he had slept close to a fellow merchant, but then it is not true that he kills him. (p69).
- By the end of the story, Aksionov has an opportunity to be free and return home, but he no longer desires to leave the prison but only hopes for his last hour to come. Ivan is a man who seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He is unlucky, mentally strong, and religious. He is unfortunate because he is sentenced to prison for 26 years for a murder that he did not commit.
He is also mentally strong because he can endure many tragic events, such as losing his home and business.
Faith and devotion
Finally, he displays a strong religious devotion by growing closer to God during difficult times.
- However, at the story’s end, he only seems to care about his faith and being close to God.
- Ivan relies on God as he is the only constant in his life. At the end of the story, he has no desire to return home. His only wish is to be with God.
At the story’s beginning, Ivan and his wife don’t have the best relationship as he leaves for Nizhny Fair even after his wife asks him to stay. Later, she doubts his innocence after he is convicted of murder.
- Faith keeps Ivan going after losing everything, being charged with murder and sent to prison in Siberia. He could have completely given up, but he instead leans on his faith in God.
l. Describe the character traits of the following characters.
- The Governor
- Focusing on their prominent character traits, compare and contrast the protagonist, Ivan Aksionov, and the Makar.
- Citing evidence from the text, describe the character traits of the following characters.
- The Governor
- Aksionov’s wife
Style and Language use
- How is symbolism employed in Leo Tolstoy’s God Sees the Truth, but Waits?
- Examine the use of irony and paradox God Sees the Truth, but Waits.
- What does Siberia represent in this story?
1. The average human attribute is evile Discuss this assertion using illustrations from
Leo Tolstoy’s God Sees the Truth, but Waits, (20 marks),