In this article, you get a detailed summary of the story “God Sees the Truth but waits” written by a Russian writer and a master of realistic fiction named Leo Tolstoy. You can also download it to read offline. Go last of the article for downloading in pdf form.
Before Reading: Answer these questions
What does the title of the story mean?
The title “God sees the Truth but waits” means that god will do justice to everyone although he waits to do so. No matter how much you want to hide the truth, one day it comes out and gets revealed. In addition, God has all the power to control everything but he does everything at right time.
Is it fair to punish innocent people in the name of justice?
No, it is not fair to punish innocent people in the name of justice. It is beyond the ethics of law. There should be strong evidence against the accused to punish otherwise, free them.
Do you believe dreams might predict the terrible fate of a person?
No, I don’t believe dreams might predict the terrible fate of a person because there is no scientific evidence to suggest this statement.
This story “God sees the Truth but waits” is a short story written by a Russian writer and a master of realistic fiction named Leo Tolstoy. He was born into a wealthy family in Russia. His parents died when he was a child. He was brought up by his elder brothers and relatives. He studied languages and law. He took military training and became an Army officer. He wrote his first novel Childhood (1852), which became a success.
Others Novels and short stories written by him are:
- Boyhood (1854)
- Youth (1857)
- The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886)
- Family Happiness (1859)
- Hadji Murad (1912) and others
- Ivan Dmitrich Aksionov (Main character): the protagonist of the story. This story has presented the imprisonment of Aksionov for a murder that he hadn’t committed. Aksionov was a handsome, fair-haired, curly-headed fellow, full of fun, and very fond of singing.
- Aksionov’s wife and child who was unnamed in the story
- Merchant: whom Aksionov met in inns and was killed by someone but the blame for this crime goes to him.
- Soldiers and officials who were unnamed in the story
- Makar Semyonich: the antagonist of the story who actually killed the Merchant.
Summary of the Story: God Sees the Truth but Waits
This story is about Ivan Dmitrich Aksionov a young merchant who had two shops and a house of his own and lived in a town called Vladimir. This story has presented the imprisonment of the main character (Aksionov) for a murder that he hadn’t committed. Aksionov was a handsome, fair-haired, curly-headed fellow, full of fun, and very fond of singing. He used to drink too much before his marriage but after marriage, he gave up drinking.
One summer, he was going to Nizhny Fair to sell the goods but his wife stop him and forced him not to go today. It’s because she saw a bad dream in which his hair was quite grey at the time of return from the fair. But Aksionov interpreted it as a lucky sign and also promised her that he will be bringing some presents from the fair. Then after he said goodbye to his family, he drove away.
When he had traveled halfway, he met a merchant whom he knew at the inn, they both had some tea and went to bed in an adjoining room. Aksionov had the habit of early to bed, early from bed. The next early morning, he paid the bill and continued the journey with his horse before dawn.
When he had gone about twenty-five miles, he stopped for the horses to be fed. Aksionov rested awhile in the passage of the inn and began to play the guitar. Suddenly the troika arrived with tinkling bells and an official (district officer) followed by two soldiers. They came to Aksionov and start asking cross-question like- who he is? Where did he spend last night? Was he alone, or with a fellow merchant? Did he see the other merchant this morning? Why did he leave the inn before dawn?”
Aksionov wondered why he was asked all these questions, but he answered all the questions they had asked. Aksionov asked the officers “Why do you cross-question me as if I was a thief or a robber?”. Then the official (police officer) informed about the merchant to whom he had spent the night before. The merchant had been found with a throat cut. Therefore, the officials need to inquire like that.
After that officials took Aksionov back to his room and start searching for his luggage. They found a blood-stained knife. They asked Aksionov about that knife but he didn’t know anything about a blood-stained knife. His word was hardly utter, and only stammered: “I–don’t know–not mine.” The police officers suspected him because he was the only person who was with the merchant in the adjoining room and the room had been locked from the inside another reason is that a blood-stained knife in his bag, and his face and manner betray him.
The officials asked Aksionov, how he killed the merchant and how much money he stole. But Aksionov denied it. He said that he had no money except eight thousand rubles of his own and that the knife was not his. But his voice was broken, his face pale, and he trembled with fear as though he went guilty. The police officer ordered the soldiers to bind Aksionov and put him in the cart. Aksionov was sent to the nearest town and imprisoned there. He was charged with murdering the merchant and robbing him of twenty thousand rubles.
After some time, his wife came to the jail to meet him. At first, she is not allowed to meet Aksionov. But after much begging with officials, she obtained permission. When she saw her husband in prison dress and in chains shut up with thieves and criminals, she fell down unconsciously for a long time. Then she drew her small child and goes closer to her husband and sat down. She asked about everything that had happened last time. Aksionov answered all her questions. She remained him of the dream she had, in which his hair was turned grey.
She asked, “What can we do now?” then, Aksionov replied that We must petition the Czar not to let an innocent man perish. She said that she had already sent the petition to the czar but had not been accepted. Again his wife asked Aksionov politely to tell the truth; was it not you who did it? After hearing these types of suspecting words from his wife’s mouth. He had broken down. He hides his face with his hand and starts weeping. Then the soldier came and say that she must go with the children now. Aksionov said goodbye to his family last time.
When they departed, Aksionov remembered the conservation with his wife and realized that his wife also suspected him. He said to himself, “It seems that only God can know the truth”. Thereafter, Aksionov never wrote any petitions and give all hope to god. Aksionov was sent to Siberia with other fellow prisoners from the local town prison.
Aksionov had passed his twenty-six years as a convict in Siberia. His hair turned white as snow, and his beard grew long, thin, and grey. All his mirth went; he stooped; he walked slowly, spoke little, and never laughed, but he often prayed. He learned to make the boots and earned little money from them. He had spent this money to buy a book named “The Lives of the Saints”. He read this book in the prison where there was enough light. On Sunday, he read the lesson in the church and sang in the choir. His voice is still good.
Everyone likes him including prison authorities and his fellow prisoners. They said to him-“Grandfather” and “The Saint”. When there were other prisoners quarreling with each other, they came to Askionov-Grandfather to judge the matter. When they wanted to petition about anything, the prison authorities make Aksionov a spokesperson. Aksionov had no information about his wife and his children. He even didn’t know, Are they alive or not?
One day a new gang of convicts came into prison. They all were surrounded by old prisoners. Old prisoners were asking about the places where they came from and why they had been arrested for. But Aksionov sat down near the newcomers and listen to them. One of the new convicts, a tall, strong man of sixty, with a closely-cropped grey beard,
was telling the others why he had been arrested for.
His name was Maka Semyonich. He said to them that he took the horse which was tied to a sledge, but he was arrested and accused of stealing. He tried to convince everyone that he was just taking the horse to go home quicker. The driver of sledge was his personal friend. But the police officer did not listen and arrested him. He also mentioned that when he did a crime before, the official didn’t find him. But now, he was arrested for doing no crime.
Someone asked him, “Where are you from?” He replied that he is from Vladimir where he lived with his family. Thereafter, Aksionov asked about merchant Aksionov’s family of Vladimir (his own family) by hiding his name(not introducing himself as he is that merchant). Are they alive? Semyonich replied, “Of course, I knew them”. Their father is in Siberia: a sinner like ourselves. Semyonich asked ” your reason for being in Siberia (jail)-Grandfather”. Aksionov replied that for his sins he had been in prison these twenty-six years.
When Semyonich asked what sins, he didn’t answer it. He only said, “Well, well–I must have deserved it!”. But his companions told all that had happened to Aksionov and how he came to siberia. How someone had killed a merchant and had put the knife among Aksionov’s luggage. When he got known about Aksiono’ds story, he kept on laughing shamelessly. This leads Aksionov to think, about whether this man knew who had killed the merchant.
Then Aksionov asked Semyonich about the killer of the merchant; who is that person? But Semyonic denied it. He said the businessman Aksionov was the one who killed the merchant. If not then how anyone can put a knife on his luggage which was under his head? When Aksionov heard these words, he felt sure this was the man who had killed the merchant. Then he standup and went away. He can’t sleep all that night. He felt terribly unhappy and remembered all the memories that he had spent with his family. All his past memories made him so wretched that he was ready to kill himself.
Aksionov blames Makar Semyonich for all pain he had suffered and the problems he had faced today. He kept repeating prayers all night but could get no peace. A fortnight passed but he couldn’t sleep. He did not know what to do. One night, when Aksionov walked around the prison. He saw someone digging the hole (tunnel). Suddenly Makar Semyonich crept out and looked up at Aksionov with a frightened face.
Makar Semyonich offered Aksionov to escape from prison with him through the tunnel he had made and also threaten Aksionov that if he said it to anyone then first semyonich will kill him. Aksionov saw Semyonich with an angered face like an enemy and said to him that he didn’t wish to escape and other things said, “you don’t need to kill me: you killed me long ago”.
The next day, the soldiers found the tunnel that Semyonich dug. The Governor came and questioned all the prisoners to find out who had dug the hole. They all denied it. They didn’t know who dug it. Finally, the governor reached out to Aksionov to ask about the tunnel because the governor knew that he was a truthful person. Semyonich knew that if Aksionov said the truth about him then he would be beaten severely with a whip almost to death.
But at last, Aksionov didn’t say anything after several tries from the Governor. So the governor had left this matter there. It is because Aksionov thought that what he had gotten from it. What he has lost, it didn’t come again. If he said the truth then Semyonich would be beaten with a whip almost to death. That night, Semyonich came to Aksionov prison. Aksionov became angry after seeing him. He threatened him to go away otherwise, he will call the guard. But Semyonich bent over Aksionov and start asking to forgive him for what he had done twenty-six years ago.
He said that he is the person who killed the merchant and he also wants to kill Aksionov but he listened to the noise outside. So he kept the knife in Aksionov’s luggage and escaped out from the window. He again starts asking Aksionov to forgive him, God’s sake forgives him. Semyonich was also ready to confess his crime and promise Aksionov that he will be released soon. But Aksionov says to him that he lost everything, his wife was dead and his children have forgotten him.
Semyonich bent his head on the floor and start crying to forgive him. Semonich said that When the soldier flogged him with the knot it was not so hard to bear as it is to see him now. Then hearing all these, Aksionov also started to weep and said to Semyonich “God will forgive you”. Now, Aksionov felt his heart lighter. Semyonich promises him that he confesses the crime to the governor and thereafter he would be released. But Aksionov didn’t have any desire to leave the prison. He had already lost everything. In spite of what Aksionov had said, Makar Semyonich confessed, his guilt. But when the order for his release came, Aksionov was already dead.
We find several themes in this story but three are major ones. The first one is; the truth can’t be buried or hides, No matter how much you want to hide the truth, one day it comes out and gets revealed. And the second theme is; forgiveness is the best way to take revenge. It builds positive energy in you and makes your heart lighter. And the third one is; if someone does wrong to you, don’t take the stress. Believe in god judgment. God does justice to everyone although it takes some time.
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