War And Peace Diaries, IV

War And Peace - Leo Tolstoy

War And Peace - Leo Tolstoy

Day 13: 644 – 682

This is the second half of Volume Three, Part One. We see here Nikolai in the battlefield. He is already an experienced frontliner, but it is in this part where he really plunges into action. Remember that he just fled from an enemy during his first time? It’s the other way around at this particular battle. He attacks with utter courage, scaring the French army and putting it into frenzy. Everyone sees this as a heroic act. However, instead of Nikolai feeling that he is the man of the day, he is overwhelmed with disgust. He could not shake off the fear that he saw on the face of the fair officer that he captured. That’s war for you, Nikolai.

Now let’s go to a completely different scene. Natasha has been sullen ever since her break up with Prince Andrei and her failed attempt at eloping with Anatole. It is taking her a little while to recover. She wouldn’t talk, she wouldn’t mingle with anyone, in short, she’s still not over the past events. And then comes Pierre. The countess felt a little better with his company. And what do you know, the count falls in love with Natasha. He actually has been long in love with her. Is Pierre going to declare his feelings for her? Is it too early?

To complete the Rostov siblings, not counting Vera, the most insignificant member of the Rostov family, let’s go to Petya. All the talk about war inspires feelings of patriotism in the youngest of the Rostovs. He fervently asks for permission to enlist for the army, but his mother wouldn’t allow it. Then the emperor arrives in Moscow. Petya is caught in a mob. Petya sees him. Petya faints. Petya is allowed to join the army.

Day 14: 682 – 753

Part Two begins with the attack of the French at Smolensk. Alpatych, one of the head servants of the Bolkonskys, is sent to this town to gather news regarding the impending war. At the time of his arrival, the town is in panic. Everyone is on the streets. And before he is able to leave, the French army advances. Cannon shots are heard everywhere. A barn is set on fire. Alpatych sees in the midst of this catastrophe Prince Andrei. The prince instructs him to tell his whole household to move out of Bald Hills, their home.

So this message is relayed to the old prince. However, the prince is reluctant. He gathers the peasants of Bald Hills to protect their town from being taken. While distributing arms to the peasants, he goes down with a stroke.

Princess Marya has mixed feelings on this. She is both sad since she has lived with an irascible father all her life, but she cannot fight her happiness at the promise of freedom once her father leaves this world. So the old count dies. Is Princess Marya happy? No. She is filled with guilt and remorse for all the happy thoughts that she entertained while her father was fighting for his life. What aggravated the matter is that her father had been calling out to her the whole night before he died. He asked for forgiveness for everything that he did. A tear-jerker.

Princess Marya tries to mourn, but the management of their estates cannot be left unattended. She is told to leave at once for Moscow. But she cannot, what with all the feelings that are brewing inside her. And she snaps back to reality. She announces to the townspeople that they should all leave for Moscow. No one would listen to her. Everyone is mistrustful. The people wouldn’t even lend their carts and horses to the distressed princess. And what do you know, out of nowhere, Count Nikolai enters the scene and fixes everything for the princess. The princess is enamored: Nikolai is her true knight in a shining armor, so to speak. And the count finds this all romantic. He is drawn to the inner spiritual world of Princess Marya. But what about his promise to Sonya? Now I am confused. I want Nikolai and Sonya to end up together, but I also like Princess Marya to be happy. This is getting twisted. 

Day 15: 753 – 821

And we’re not yet done with Part Two. This is actually the longest chunk in the whole book. Anyway, the plot shifts to Pierre, who goes camping around the army. He wants to witness the battle for himself without necessarily having to get directly involved in the war business. He meets Prince Andrei. Of course, Pierre is happy to meet his best friend, but the latter seems a little dismayed. He didn’t even make an attempt to engage the count in a good conversation. Sensing this, Pierre leaves and waits for the battle of Borodino the next day.

And so Pierre takes a walk, not in the park, but right in the battlefield. He finds the whole thing amusing. Guns, cannons, smoke. People attacking, people retreating, people dying. It’s like another day for the soldiers, like they are just going through an ordinary day at work. But fear is inescapable, death is everywhere.

Death. Prince Andrei is hit with a shell, in the abdomen. That split-second between the landing of the shell and its explosion made the prince appreciate the beauty of life and his want to be still a part of it. The shell explodes anyway. He is rushed to the medics, and beside him is a soldier who is being amputated of his leg. When he regains consciousness, he finds out that,  gasp, the soldier is none other than Anatole Kuragin. He didn’t gloat though; his near-death experience made him love everyone, even this man who took his love away.

But the bigger question is this: is Prince Andrei going to die? I hope not. It’s too early.

Day 16: 821 – 878

While characters are dying, Part Three opens with Helene, Pierre’s wife, wishing to marry another man. She uses her charm and cunning to make it happen. Will she be successful? I think she will be. She has everyone wrapped around her fingers. But remember, this is 1812. There’s no such thing as divorce yet. Or is there?

Anyway, let’s end this with the Rostovs leaving for Moscow. They are the last to leave, what with their indecision at everything. They have already prepared all their belongings on the carts, but instead, they end up leaving all their belongings so that they could take the wounded soldiers with them. And along the way, Natasha catches a glimpse of Pierre, incognito. He is wearing a peasant’s clothing. What is he up to? Why isn’t he leaving? Are Natasha and Pierre going to end up together? Who is going to die next? What’s going to happen to Prince Andrei?

When is the war going to end?

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