God sees the truth but waits

Exercise: Question & Answers
Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.

a. What bad habits did Aksionov have before his marriage?
He used to drink before his marriage and was raucous when he drank too much.

b. What can be the meaning of his wife’s dream?
Aksionov’s wife’s dream is a foreshadowing of his tragic destiny.

b. Which special picture did the narrator notice in the room?
A miniature picture of a young girl in an oval shape caught the narrator’s eye.

c. Why did Aksionov think of killing himself?
The terrible circumstances Aksionov had experienced without committing any crimes haunted him, and he contemplated of doing suicide. A lot of things came back to him, including all the faced torture, the people who were around him when he was imprisoned (including other inmates), his old age, and the fact that he had spent 26 years in jail. He had a very unpleasant feeling of losing all dignity, power, prestige and even the respect from his family members as well as the ones from his community.

d. Why did Makar disclose that he had killed the merchant?
Makar disclosed the culprit of the merchant’s murder, saying he did it because he was embarrassed of himself and he wanted to make Aksionov free from the prison. He was so embarrassed and confessed to his wrongdoing as a result of Aksionov’s good deed to him. In his heart, he felt sorry for Aksionov.

e. Why doesn’t Aksionov wish to return to his family at the end of the story?
The story ends with Aksionov refusing to return to his family because he has grown old, lost all dignity, power, prestige and even the respect from his family members as well as the ones from his community. He prefers to die in jail rather than be reunited with his loved ones. He’s spent his whole life behind bars despite the fact that he’s never committed a crime. At his age, he’s weak as well.

Reference to the context

a. “Well, old man,” repeated the Governor, “tell me the truth: who has been digging under the wall?”
i. Who is that old man?

Aksionov is that old man.

ii. Which truth is the speaker asking about?
The speaker is asking about the reality of tunnel digging.

iii. Which wall does the speaker mean?
This refers to the barricade around the jail.

b. Describe Aksionov’s character.
Aksionov is the protagonist of the story. He was a well-to-do young Russian businessman from Vladimir. He was a tall, slim guy. He has been a generous guy after marriage. But due to various circumstances, he was accused of murder. In addition to murder, he was accused of robbing and stealing from a fellow trader. A kind guy, he remained silent till the end, but destiny intervened, and he perished in jail. For him, it was important to be physically and psychologically strong, as shown by his ability to cope with numerous traumatic experiences such as losing everything he had and his company. He had virtues like forgiveness, trust, and acceptance. Last but not least, the way he grew closer to God in the midst of his most difficult situations was a prominent feature of the character. He endured a lot while inside jail and spent the most of his twenty-six-year sentence praying for mercy from God and eventually died at last.

c. What is the theme of the story?
Forgiveness and faith are two major themes expressed throughout the story. The fact that Aksionov has spent 26 years in jail for a crime, though he did not commit crime, does not stop him from believing in god. In addition, the story revolves on guilt, forgiveness, faith, conflict, and acceptance as key themes. Aksionov’s forgiveness to Makar Semyonich may be found here. There is no better kind of vengeance than forgiveness, as shown in this story.

D. Which symbols are used in the story and what do they indicate?
This story makes extensive use of symbols. The house and stores represent the worldly material possessions that benefit no one and last for all time. In prison, he encounters suffering, torment, and even spiritual change. Prison is where he discovers these things. Aksionov’s struggle and ultimate spiritual development are symbolised by the jail itself. In Aksionov, this name of the saint (The Lives of the Saints) represents a change in religious outlook. Aksionov decides to dedicate his whole life to serving God. The terror of the nightmare’s effects has been shown in the story. Aksionov’s wife’s nightmare of Aksionov’s grey hair symbolizes Aksionov’s terrible fate.

Reference beyond the text

a. How does he undergo a spiritual transformation in the story? What role does religion play in Aksionov’s life?
Aksionov lived as a prisoner in Siberia for twenty-six years. He has spent his whole life waiting for God to provide justice. But when he confronts the actual killer, he stays quiet. It’s only via religion that we discover how he and his life go from materialism to spiritualism.
In the wake of being accused by his wife, he abandons all hope and convinces himself that only God understands what’s going on. People in the jail regard and call him “The Saint” or “Grandfather.” Even the guards at the jail like him because of his kind demeanour. After realising the importance of forgiving others, Aksionov is now on the road to finding peace. And he’s well-versed on the subject of destiny as well as spirituality and God’s devotedness. He spends his whole life on religion, and he is completely devout to God. Even the prisoner is saved from the governor thanks to him. He continues demonstrating his sincerity. Finally, he finds serenity and passes away. He has come to terms with many elements of life, including destiny and its relationship to religion. So, we can infer there was a remarkable influence of religion in Aksionov’s life.

b. What does the story tell us about the existence of an unfair system of justice?
The primary character of this story has been the victim of an unfair system of justice. An innocent man is unjustly imprisoned and sentenced to 26 years in jail in this tale, despite the fact that he committed no crime and was merely accused of murder based on circumstantial evidence. A lot happens to him along the way but he eventually comes to terms with his situation and dies quietly. In fact, we learn about an unjust judicial system through the story’s primary protagonist’s own experience.


Leo Tolstoy’s short story “God Sees the Truth, But Waits” is a popular story written in 1872. The setting is Valdimir, Russia. Ivan Dmitrich Aksionov, the main character in Leo N. Tolstoy’s story titled “God Sees the Truth, But Waits,” endures sufferings as a consequence of the acts of a 3rd person, but he maintains his faith in God to help him get through these difficult times.

Ivan Demitrich Aksionov is a wealthy businessman with two businesses and a residence. He’s happily married. After marrying, he quit drinking. Consequently, people like him. He attends a Nizhny fair for business. As he is getting ready to leave, his wife tells him not to go because she had a bad dream the night before. Ivan ignores her superstition and leaves.

Midway, he meets a trader companion and they go on. They check into an inn, spend time together, have supper, and then go to bed separately. Next day, Ivan wakes up early and doesn’t want to wake his friend, so he travels alone. 

Soldiers stop Aksionov about 25 miles down the road and accuse him of killing his friend because they saw him with the guy the night before he was killed and because his early morning departure seemed suspicious. They discover a bloodied knife as they go through Aksionov’s things. Witnesses from Aksionov’s hometown say that he is a kind guy, but that he used to drink heavily at past. Even Aksionov’s wife is beginning to have doubts about his virility. As a result of his conviction, he will spend the next 26 years in a Russian jail.
While he is jailed, his wife visits him and begins to think that he is responsible for the murder. After 26 years in jail, Ivan gets respect from other prisoners and guards. The next day, a group of new prisoners arrives, and one of them is Makar Semyonich. Makar begins to socialise with other people and often shares his experiences with them. As Ivan begins to suspect him as the merchant’s murderer, he has a strong feeling that it was him. Despite this, he keeps silent.

One day, guards notice someone making a tunnel to escape. Ivan is aware that the person responsible for digging the hole is none other than Makar Semyonich. Ivan remains quiet when cops enquire about the hole. After seeing this act of kindness, Makar goes to Ivan at twelve in the night and admits that he was the one who had assassinated the merchant earlier that night at the inn where they were staying. But Ivan forgives him and feels like a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders. 

Makar provides the police with a full confession of his involvement in the crime, which allows them to begin the process of freeing Ivan from prison. At this point, Aksionov has given up on returning to his family and is content with being with the Lord. Ivan dies in jail before he’s released. However, the truth was more significant than his demise. He wasn’t a killer, therefore he probably died in peace.

Message of the story:

This is a story about the truth, and despite the passage of time—decades, even centuries—the truth can never be buried. Discoveries of the truth are a sign that God has done justice.

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