It's fashionable to say that a man needs no more than six feet of earth. But six feet are what a corpse needs, not a man. And they say, too, now, that if our intellectual classes are attracted to the land and yearn for a farm, it's a good thing. But these farms are just the same as six feet of earth. To retreat from town, from the struggle, from the bustle of life, to retreat and bury yourself in your farm—it's not life, it's egotism, laziness, it's monasticism of a sort, but monasticism without good works. A man does not need six feet of earth or a farm, but the entire globe, all nature, where he can have room to display all the qualities and peculiarities of his free spirit.

This quote is taken from Ivan's diatribe in "Gooseberries" against the greed of the Russian landowners. We see Chekhov refuting Tolstoy's argument that an individual needs only "six feet of earth" by noting that mankind needs "the entire globe" in which to wander. The author felt that man's liberation depended upon his freedom to roam the earth, connecting with nature and exercising the authority of his free will. However, many of Chekhov's tales show people oppressed by circumstance and suffering due to the vagaries of fate. One wonders whether the author admires but also recognizes the futility of Ivan's idealism.