“A Spark Neglected Burns the House” is about two feuding neighbors, Ivan and Gabriel. After almost a decade of quarrels and pure hatred for one another, Gabriel decides to burn down Ivan’s house. In this story, Leo Tolstoy teaches that hatred has horrible consequences, that humility is essential in forgiving, and that forgiveness saves one from a lot of trouble.
One of the first lessons Tolstoy teaches is that hatred has horrible consequences. An example of this lesson is when Ivan has his house burned. “Ivan turned round and saw that his back shed was all ablaze, and the side shed had also caught fire, and flames and smoke and bits of burning straw mixed with the smoke, were being driven towards his hut.” (page 225) Both Gabriel’s and Ivan’s hatred for one another led to this disaster. Gabriel was wrong in trying to harm Ivan, but God used this as Ivan’s consequence for hating.
Another lesson Tolstoy teaches is that humility is essential in forgiving. Both Gabriel and Ivan were too proud to humble themselves and forgive one another. Ivan was the first to humble himself. “Only then Ivan came to his senses and understood it all. He sniffed and said, ‘Mine, father!’ and he fell on his knees before his father, saying, ‘Forgive me father; I am guilty before you and before God.’” (page 226) This is when Ivan truly humbles himself and chooses to forgive Gabriel. This example is proof that humility is essential in forgiveness.
The last lesson Tolstoy teaches is that forgiveness saves one from a lot of trouble. If Ivan had forgiven Gabriel as soon as their quarrels began, they would have never hated each other so much and Ivan would have never had his house burned down. “Ivan did not say anything against Gabriel, and no one knew what had caused the fire.” (page 226) This is when Ivan finally forgives Gabriel. If Ivan had forgiven Gabriel at the very start of their problems, it would have saved them both from a lot of trouble.
Through this story, Leo Tolstoy teaches that hatred has horrible consequences, that humility is essential in forgiving, and that forgiveness saves one from a lot of trouble. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (KJV) This example from the Bible shows that people should forgive one another regardless of what they have done. This story is very well written and teaches valuable lessons. It is a great read for anyone.