Analysis of God Sees the Truth but Fail- Leo Tolstoy

Categories: Leo Tolstoy

The story is spread over a period of 26 years, where the main character Aksionov changes over time. He becomes a person whom everyone in the prison, including the guards, trust. He was liked for his meekness and his fellow prison mates respected him. He was called’ grandfather’ and ‘The saint’. He became the spokesman for petitions and was the person to whom people came to when they had quarrels or any kind of problem. He is interpreted as a person who stuck to his values and his identity even after all the years in prison.

He had no news of his family and was hurt by this fact alot. He had aged over the years and looked older than his age. His hair was gray, he stooped, walked slowly spoke very little and never laughed. Even then his presence was felt throughout the prison because of his kind nature and he was loved by everyone. The other character in the story, Makar Semyonich is a stark contrast to Aksionov.

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Semyonich is was tall, with a closely cropped gray beard.

They were both of the same age but Aksionov had aged over the years in the prison, while Semyionich was strong and well built. Because of his appearance, Semyonich called Aksionov “gran’dad”. They way Semyonich spoke to the others was in a very casual tone, as if it was nothing great that he had landed in prison and that the crime he had committed was not that a heinous one. Even after he found out who Aksionov was, his voice did not show any remorse or guilt, which showed that he wasn’t guilty that someone else had been convicted of a crime that he had committed.

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When the murder of the merchant was discussed, Semyonich uttered the words “ how could anyone put a knife into your bag while it was under your head?” When he said these words, Aksionov understand he was the real murderer as he had not said that the bag was under his pillow. When he found out who the real killer was,he longed for vengeance even if he himself should perish for it . there was a change in his attitude, in his thoughts. He was no longer in peace and had a sense of uneasiness in him.

Even when the guards were asking Aksionov if he knew who had dug a hole in the prison, Semyonich stood as if he was innocent, as if he had no care in the world. But Aksionov did not give up semyonichs name even though he had seen him do it, because he was good at heart and wasn’t too sure if he was the one who had killed the merchant. Seeing that Aksionov hadn’t given his name up, Semyonich went to him and confessed his crime of murdering the merchant, for which Aksionov had spent 26 years in jail. He begged for forgiveness and even said that he would confess to the guatds. But it did not ake a difference to Aksionov as his entire life had been spent in prison and there was nobody outside waiting for him- his wife was dead and his children did not remember him anymore. Semyonich felt the pain Aksionov was suffering , and begged for his forgiveness, for he wanted to change as a person and wouldnot be in peace with himself until Aksionov had forgiven him.

The story is about forgiveness and how forgiveness can bring a change in a person. There is a change in Semyonich when he realises his mistake and sees the suffering of Aksionov in prison, which drives him to beg for forgiveness from Aksionov. He even confesses in court of his previous crime, though it did not make a difference in Aksionov’s life as he passed away before his order for release came. There always was a sense of acceptance in Aksionov’s mind and heart, acceptance of his condition in prison and he was at peace with himself. But when he realised who the real murderer was, his peace was overtaken by anger, revenge and hatred towards Semyonich. He wanted him to suffer ah he had for the past 26 years. But when Semyonich came to ask him for forgiveness, a sense of relief overcame him, his heart grew light and and the longing for home left him. He knew that god would forgive Semyonich for his mistake.

Forgivinh Semyonich did change Aksionov in a way, it removed the hatred and anger within him towards Semyonich. When Aksionov did not give up semyonichs name, Semyonich realised what pain and suffering he had put an innocent man through and felt remorseful about it. There is a contrast in the presentation of the two main characters. Aksionov’s thoughts, his change as a person, his character is potrayed from his thoughts and actions. Alot of his thoughts are written in the story and with that we get to know more about his nature, his attitude towards life. Semyonich’s character can be gathered from his dialogue and speech. His inner thoughts have not been mentioned and with the help of his speech we find out that he has no care in the world, doesn’t feel guilty about his crimes as mentioned above.

The focus of this is also on the morals and values that people hold. The story has dramatic representation as well narrative representation. There are dialogues and conversations in the story, which helps the reader understand the characters better, as well as understand the moral of the story and the theme which the author has tried to convey. The story also has a character focus, where the change in the attitude and nature of both characters is emphasized on, especially Semyonich. The story also raises the question of punishment, by imprisonment, being a correct measure.


The story is spread over a time span of 3 days. The main characters are Rolf Carle, a journalist who specialises in disasters and Azucena, a girl who is stuck under the earth because of a landslide caused by the volcanic eruption. The story is narrated by a third person, Rolf Carles’s girlfriend, but is in the first person narrative form. She is seeing the whole episode between Carle and Azucena through the television and comments upon what she sees and understands. She knows Carle’s past, understands his pain and suffering and comments about it in parts of the story. The narrator empathises with him. She also comments on the media, similar to the comments in the poem’ Adam from New Zealand’ by Imtiaz Dharkar. The narrator comments about the extent media goes to get their stories, how they make innocent people media fodder and exploit them for their own benefit, about how they try to capture reality, the true stories by not being fully involved.

The problem with the narrator being a peripheral character is that she truly doesn’t know what the main characters are thinking, what their emotions are. She cant go into their minds and write, so she writes what she thinks the characters are thinking and feeling, which is cheating as she might be making up some of the thoughts and emotions. She also emphasizes how far away she is from him during the disaster. It was as if the television screen separated both of them from each other. Rolf Carle is a journalist, who is very passionate about his job. He is a very well known figure on television, reporting live at scenes of battle and disasters. He had a calm voice in the midst of all the chaos of the disaster he was covering. He was focused, calm, had a sense of equanimity and it seemed like fear never seemed to touch or affect him. It was as if he saw all the action through the lens of the camera, through a distance and never got emotionally involved with the action.

This protected him from his own emotions. He got involved, in a way obsessed with trying to protect and save Azucena. He talked to her, told her stories, got all the possible resources available to save her. his voice broke down when he promised her she would get saved. He had forgotten his camera, he now did not look at the girl through the camera lens, but with his own eyes. He had shed his protection, he was now flooded by his emotions. The emotions he had been bottling up for years, memories of his past began overcoming him, his deepest secrets now starting flooding his mind. He could not tell Azucena all this for she would not understand. The memories of the Russians taking them to the concentration camps, his father locking him up, his mother being forced to perform for the troops, his sister, all the horrors of his past. He was now buried in the memories of those horrors of the past. He realised that all that he had achieved as a reporter was just to bury his past deeper within.

He was hurt again by the memory of it. He then realised that Azucena had indeed consoled him, made him accept his past and move on from it. The girl had touched a part of him which even his girlfriend had never had been able to understand, be a part of. Azucena was a young girl of thirteen, who had ever left her village and did not know about life outside hers. Even though she was neck deep in quick sand, she did not seem desperate to be rescued. She was calm and composed, as if resignation had made her accept her fate. This was a difference in attitude between her and Rolf. She was humble, and at times her tone was as if she was apologising for all the fuss she was creating. She learnt a lot about the world through the stories he told her, she had a premature optimism about being saved in the beginning.

But as time passed by, she started giving up hope and completely broke down, knowing her fate. She and Rolf had an emotional connection, which helped them both accept her fate, her death and be at peace. She , unknowingly, had made Rolf confront his past. Seeing her suffering, his memories had flood back and he was finally able to make peace with what had happened all those years back. With her help he had confronted it and finally put it all away. She had become media fodder through her suffering. She was asked the same questions by the reporters; she was used as an object to show the world the horror that had taken place in that area. She could no longer answer their questions as she was too tired and sick to, as well as because she no longer wanted to. She was literally drowned in mud, and her face was showing signs of exhaustion and giving up hope. She did not understand life beyond her village, the seven seas and the rest of Europe.

The main focus of the story is Rolf Carle, his change as a character. how the encounter with Azucena affects him psychologically and how he fights the demons of his past within him. The second focus is on the media, the narrator brings out the desperation the media has to get their story and how they use people to get their stories. How they don’t understand the sentiments of the people involved, which shows the insensitivity of the media. The title is in a way symbolic to the story, it refers to how we are made from the mud and how at the end the little girl dies and sinks into the mud. It emphasizes the fact that its a circle of life- we end up at the place where we started.

The story is written very metaphorically, with the use of situational and dramatic irony in some places. It goes deep into the emotions of the main character and sometimes even brings out a poetic touch. The story is set within a very short time frame of 3 days, with the conclusion bringing out a sense of change in the main characters depression in the future. It brings out two fights(metaphorically)- Rolf fighting to save Azucena by trying everything possible, and the fight with himself to prevent his past memories from coming forward and haunting him.


A short story is a work of fiction which is written in prose and often in narrative form, as seen in ‘And Of Clay Are We Made’. The length of a short story may vary from author to author, sometimes ranging from a page to 20 pages. It generally combines matter of fact descriptions with a poetic atmosphere. There is often little action and less character development, as compared to a novel. The plot of the story is simple, not complicated, but leaves the reader with a vivid impression which makes it easier to remember the facts. Very often short stories have abrupt or open endings, leaving an opportunity to the reader to think and form opinions about the ending. They generally tend to stick to one incident, rather than a mix of a no of incidents like in novels, and is usually restricted to only one setting. A short story is usually concerned with a single effect conveyed in only one or few significant scenes.

This form encourages economy of setting, concise narrative and the omission of a complex plot. The character is disclosed in action and dramatic encounter but is seldom fully developed. A short story is usually judged by its ability to provide a complete or satisfying treatment of its characters and subjects. There is a close connection between a short story and a poem as there is a unique union of idea and structure in both. The evolution of the short story began even before man could write. To aid himself in constructing and memorising tales, the early storyteller often relied on stock phrases, fixed rhythms and rhyme. Most of the ancient short story are in verse form and the stories from the middle east were also in verse form.

They were inscribed in cuneiform on clay during 2nd millennium BC. Some writers believe that the shoert story is the most greatest and the most challenging form of literature to write, and the most infuriating too. Even though it looks very easy to pen, it sometimes takes a very long time for the writers to finish a short story. A good short story is always about a moment of profound realisation, or a hint of it. A classic length of a short story is that one should be able to finish in one sitting. The elements of a short story are:

1.Setting: the time and location in which the story takes place is called the setting. For some stories the setting is important while for others it isn’t. 2.Plot: the plot is how the author arranges the events to develop his basic idea. It is the sequence of events . the plot is planned, logical series of events having a beginning, middle and end. The story has usually has only one plot. 3.Conflict: conflict is an essential plot for without it , the plot makes no sense. It is the opposition of forces that ties one incident to another and makes the plot move. It is not merely limited to open arguments; rather it is any form of opposition that faces the main character. 4.Character: short stories use few characters. One character is central to the story with all major events revolving around the main character and is known as the protagonist.

The opposite of the main character or the secondary character is known as the antagonist. 5.Point of view: point of view is defined as the angle from which the story is told. For eg: from the point of view of an adult, or a child and sometimes even from the narrators point of view, as in ‘And of Clay Are We Created’. 6.Theme: the theme is the controlling idea or its central insight. It is the authors underlying meaning or the main idea that he is trying to convey. The theme may be the author’s thoughts on a certain social, political issue. The title of the story usually point to what the writer is saying and uses various figures of speech to convey the theme to the readers. The stories ‘GOD SEES THE TRUTH BUT WAITS’ and ‘ AND OF CLAY ARE WE CREATED’ are short stories that are in the narrative form, yet are quite different from each other, as will be seen in the following pages. The morals, the themes, time span as well as characterisation and style of narration are very different from each other.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Analysis of God Sees the Truth but Fail- Leo Tolstoy. (2016, Oct 03). Retrieved from

Analysis of God Sees the Truth but Fail- Leo Tolstoy essay
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