Pahom is industrious, ambitious, and dedicated. He longs to be prosperous and frequently compares himself to his neighbors. Though his desire for land is initially modest, his needs increase as his wealth increases. By the end of the story, Pahom's arrogance and pride get the better of him. He accepts a challenge to purchase as much land as he can circle in a day and dies of exhaustion while marking his plot.
The Devil rarely appears in the story, and Pahom is unaware of his influence. But Tolstoy implies the Devil is the spiritual force driving Pahom's choices. He is portrayed as a trickster who enjoys Pahom's downfall and moral corruption.