W&P Week 40: Three/Three/End

For 10/14/2021 (p. 1001)

Scene: Moscow (cont.)

Chapter 26

In the meantime, Pierre is “in a state bordering on insantiy” (964) in Iosif Alexeevich’s house, and convinces himself that he is destined to assassinate Napoleon. On the day the French enter Moscow, he is getting his pistol ready, but the drunk Makar Alexeevich grabs it from the table and runs off with it right as the French arrive at the house.

Chapter 27

A French captain with soldiers walks in, demanding the house for soldier’s quarters, and Makar brandishes the pistol. Pierre throws himself on Makar, a pistol shot goes nowhere, and Pierre makes sure that the French captain is not wounded, revealing his knowledge of French. The French captain immediately sees him as a friend, while Pierre feels both grateful to have prevented harm and like a traitor.

Chapter 28

The Captain, Ramballe, is a cheerful man and offers Pierre his friendship as well as his gratitude, and chatters about the action he has seen, his wounds from battles against the Russians, and the ladies that have sadly all left Moscow–their loss. They chat about Paris, and Ramballe is delighted that Pierre has spent several years there. Pierre plays the middleman when a German officer in French employ is also demanding quarters for his men. Pierre is getting increasingly depressed about the situation, but Ramballe keeps insisting on friendship and tells him the story of his life and about his love affairs. That makes him think of Natasha and his love for her. When they step out into the night, rather drunk, Pierre again sees the comet [still “bright”?] and what looks like “one, small, distant fire” (980); he is momentarily joyful, then remembers his assassination plan, but goes to his room and falls asleep in his room instantly.

Scene: Mytishchy, 14 miles outside Moscow (Rostovs)

Chapter 30

By September 2, the Rostovs have only made it 14 miles out of town and are in this village, and see Moscow on fire from there, as everyone is kept away by the moans and groans of Raevsky’s adjutant. As the fact that there is no one in town to put out the fires sinks in, the Rostov servants that are watching are in shock, sobbing, praying, sighing.

Chapter 31

When Count Rostov and the family, who are staying in a village cottage, are informed of the fires, the Count goes off with the valet, the Countess is crying, and Sonya tries to make Natasha pay attention. But earlier in the day, she had been told (by Sonya, “for some unaccountable reason,” 983) about Andrei, and she has not been paying attention to anyone ever since, determined to go see him. After Sonya, Mme Schoss, and the Countess, who are in the same room with her, have fallen asleep, Natasha leaves and goes to Prince Andrei’s hut. As she enters, he wakes up, smiles and holds out his hand to her (986).

Chapter 32

At this point, it has been 7 days since the day he was wounded in Borodino, and despite the doctor’s prediction, his temperature is lower, he has regained consciousness, and eaten something (the doctor thinks he will die later with greater suffering). He wants to read “the Gospels” (987) because he somehow thinks that they will hold the key to why, after having seen the wounded Anatole, he had felt so happy. “His mind was not in a normal state” (988, parallel to Pierre in Moscow that day) and he cannot focus but constantly shifts his attention to new stimuli–sounds, light, etc. He thinks of Natasha, whom he has both loved and hated like no one else, and he realizes he understands “her feelings, her sufferings, shame, and remorse” (989). When he sees her, he thinks he is still in a delirium, but then realizes that it is really her. She asks for forgiveness, he says he loves her, and for the rest of the journey, she nurses Andrei and can’t be stopped–if anyone thinks that their engagement will be renewed, though, no one speaks about it; “the unsettled question of life and death, which ung not only over Bolkonsky but over all Russia, shut out all other considerations” (991).

Scene: Moscow (Pierre)

Chapter 33

The next day, Sept 3, Pierre awakes late and decides that he needs to act. The pistol no longer loaded, he takes a dagger and walks into the street. He does not know that Napoleon has long passed the spot where he thinks he can attack him and is already in the Kremlin. The fire is everywhere, and a weeping woman is appealing to him–she has all her children with her except the youngest, who is still inside a burning building. He asks looting French soldiers for help and they point him to the child who is lying in backyard and at first runs away from him.

Chapter 34

The child on his arm, Pierre tries to find the child’s family, eager to help others once he has handed her off, energized by the feeling of doing good. He sees a “Georgian or Armenian family” in oriental outfits, including a beautiful young woman (PICTURESQUE ORIENTALISM MOMENT OF THE FINEST/WORST, 997/98) and when he sees that family being threatened by soldiers, he hands the child off to a peasant woman and attacks the soldier who tries to take the woman’s necklace. He is arrested and taken away, partly because the dagger is discovered, and partly because he refuses to tell the French who he is.