War and Peace

War and Peace

by

Leo Tolstoy

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Pierre is an illegitimate son of Petersburg’s wealthy, dying Count Bezukhov. He was educated in Paris and, when he returns to Petersburg as a young man, he’s socially awkward and unfamiliar with Russian aristocratic expectations. For example, he idolizes the French leader Napoleon and openly champions Bonaparte when in Russian high society. However, he also has an appealingly warm, sincere demeanor that wins people over despite his missteps. Pierre continually struggles to figure out what to do with his life, and in the beginning, he lacks a sound ethical framework, struggling to keep his word or make sensible decisions. After gaining his father’s inheritance, Pierre is manipulated by Prince Vassily into marrying Hélène Kuragin, although he doesn’t respect her. After hearing rumors of Dolokhov’s affair with his wife, Pierre challenges Dolokhov to a duel and unexpectedly wins, but he separates from Hélène. Easily moved by othersstrong convictions, Pierre joins the Freemasons upon meeting Bazdeev, a prominent Mason who seems to know the answer to all of Pierre’s problems. Pierre is idealistic—wanting to liberate all the peasants on his land, for example—but has no notion of the financial implications such an action will have on his struggling estates. Because of his kindness, Pierre tends to become a confidant to women like Princess Marya and Natasha. This is especially difficult as Pierre develops romantic feelings for Natasha, which he struggles to keep in check. In 1812, he pays to outfit a regiment but is desperate to do more for the war effort against France’s invasion of Russia. He observes the battle of Borodino up close, then decides to stay in Moscow after its evacuation, convinced it’s his job to assassinate Napoleon. However, he gets arrested by the French for beating up some looting soldiers. After months of imprisonment, during which he befriends and learns from Platon Karataev, Pierre possesses a new capacity to find joy and contentment in everyday life. Returning to Moscow, he tells Natasha his story and falls in love with her anew. They marry in 1813, and by 1820, they have four children, and Pierre is working in secret to build a government reform movement in Petersburg. He has finally found happiness and a settled sense of life’s meaning.

Pierre Bezukhov Quotes in War and Peace

The War and Peace quotes below are all either spoken by Pierre Bezukhov or refer to Pierre Bezukhov. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Society and Wealth Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of War and Peace published in 2008.
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 5–6 Quotes

“There’s war now against Napoleon. If it were a war for freedom, I could understand it, I’d be the first to go into military service; but to help England and Austria against the greatest man in the world . . . is not right.”

Prince Andrei merely shrugged his shoulders at Pierre’s childish talk. He made it look as though he could not reply to such stupidity; but in fact it was hard to reply to this naive question in any other way than Prince Andrei had done.

“If everyone made war only according to his own convictions, there would be no war,” he said. […]

“Well, what makes you go to war?” asked Pierre.

“What makes me? I don’t know. I have to. Besides, I’m going . . .” He paused. “I’m going because this life I lead here, this life— is not for me!”

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov (speaker), Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (speaker), Napoleon Bonaparte
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 1–5 Quotes

“All this had to be so and could not be otherwise,” thought Pierre, “therefore there’s no point in asking whether it’s good or bad. It’s good because it’s definite, and there’s no more of the old tormenting doubt.” […]

“Something special is said on these occasions,” he thought, but he simply could not remember precisely what was said on these occasions. […]

“It’s too late now, it’s all over; and anyway I love her,” thought Pierre.

Je vous aime!” he said, having remembered what needed to be said on these occasions; but the words sounded so meager that he felt ashamed of himself.

A month and a half later he was married and settled down, as they say, the happy possessor of a beautiful wife and millions of roubles, in the big, newly done-over house of the counts Bezukhov in Petersburg.

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov (speaker), Hélène Kuragin Bezukhov
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 1–4 Quotes

“For centuries, starting with our forefather Adam and down to our days, we have been working towards that knowledge and are infinitely far from reaching our goal; but we see our incomprehension only as our weakness and His grandeur . . .”

With a swelling heart, with glittering eyes, Pierre gazed into the Mason’s face, listened to him, did not interrupt him, did not ask anything, and believed with his whole soul what this stranger was telling him. Whether he believed those reasonable arguments in the Mason’s speech, or believed, as children do, the intonations, convictions, and heartfelt emotion in the Mason’s speech […] in any case he wanted to believe with his whole soul, and did believe, and experienced a joyful feeling of peace, renewal, and return to life.

Related Characters: Osip (Iosif) Alexeevich Bazdeev (speaker), Pierre Bezukhov
Page Number: 351
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 10–14 Quotes

Pierre did not know that the village where he was offered bread and salt and where a chapel to Peter and Paul was being built was a market village with a fair on St. Peter’s Day, that the chapel had been begun long ago by the wealthy peasants, who were the ones that welcomed him, and that nine-tenths of the peasants in that village were completely destitute. […]

“How easy it is, how little effort it takes, to do so much good,” thought Pierre, “and how little we care about it!”

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov (speaker)
Page Number: 380
Explanation and Analysis:

“To live only so as not to do evil, so as not to repent, is too little. I used to live that way, I lived for myself, and I ruined my life. And only now, when I live, or at least try to live” (Pierre corrected himself out of modesty) “for others, only now have I understood all the happiness of life. No, I won’t agree with you, and you don’t really think what you’re saying.” Prince Andrei silently gazed at Pierre with a mocking smile.

[…]

“Maybe you’re right for yourself,” he went on after a brief pause, “[…] But I experienced the opposite. I used to live for glory. (What is glory? The same as love for others, the desire to do something for them, the desire for their praise.) So I lived for others and ruined my life— and not almost, but completely. And I’ve been at peace since I began living for myself alone.”

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov (speaker), Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (speaker)
Page Number: 384
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 1–6 Quotes

The old oak, quite transformed, spreading out a canopy of juicy, dark greenery, basked, barely swaying, in the rays of the evening sun. Of the gnarled fingers, the scars, the old grief and mistrust— nothing could be seen. Juicy green leaves without branches broke through the stiff, hundred-year-old bark, and it was impossible to believe that this old fellow had produced them. “Yes, it’s the same oak,” thought Prince Andrei, and suddenly a causeless springtime feeling of joy and renewal came over him. All the best moments of his life suddenly recalled themselves to him at the same time. Austerlitz with the lofty sky, and the dead, reproachful face of his wife, and Pierre on the ferry, and a girl excited by the beauty of the night, and that night itself, and the moon— all of it suddenly recalled itself to him.

Related Symbols: Oak Tree, Sky
Page Number: 423
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 24–25 Quotes

“Take no prisoners,” Prince Andrei went on. “That alone would change the whole war and make it less cruel. As it is, we’ve been playing at war— that’s the nasty thing, we act magnanimously and all that. It’s like the magnanimity and sentimentality of the lady who swoons when she sees a calf slaughtered […] We’re told about the rules of war, about chivalry, about parleying, sparing the unfortunate, and so on. It’s all nonsense. I saw chivalry and parleying in 1805: they cheated us, we cheated them. They loot other people’s houses, spread false banknotes, and worst of all— kill my children and my father, and then talk about the rules of war and magnanimity towards the enemy. […]

If there was none of this magnanimity in war, we’d go to it only when it was worth going to certain death, as now.”

Related Characters: Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (speaker), Pierre Bezukhov
Page Number: 775
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 4, Part 1: Chapters 9–13 Quotes

From the moment when Pierre saw this horrible murder performed by people who did not want to do it, it was as if the spring that upheld everything and made it seem alive had been pulled from his soul, and it had all collapsed into a heap of meaningless trash. Though he did not account for it to himself, his faith in the world’s good order, in humanity’s and his own soul, and in God, was destroyed. Pierre had experienced this state before, but never with such force as now. […] But now he felt that it was not his guilt that caused the world to collapse in front of his eyes and leave only meaningless ruins. He felt that to return to faith in life was not in his power.

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov
Page Number: 969
Explanation and Analysis:

Karataev had no attachments, friendships, or love, as Pierre understood them; but he loved and lived lovingly with everything that life brought his way, especially other people— not any specific people, but those who were there before his eyes. He loved his mutt, his comrades, the French, he loved Pierre, who was his neighbor; but Pierre sensed that, despite all his gentle tenderness towards him […] Karataev would not have been upset for a moment to be parted from him. And Pierre was beginning to experience the same feeling towards Karataev. […]

But for Pierre he remained forever as he had seen him the first night, the unfathomable, round, and eternal embodiment of the spirit of simplicity and truth.

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov, Platon Karataev
Page Number: 974
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 4, Part 2: Chapters 8–14 Quotes

The satisfaction of his needs— for good food, cleanliness, freedom— now that he was deprived of them all, seemed perfect happiness to Pierre, and the choice of an occupation, that is, of a life, now, when that choice was so limited, seemed to him such an easy matter that he forgot that a superfluity of life’s comforts destroys all the happiness of the satisfaction of one’s needs, and that a greater freedom to choose one’s occupation, the freedom which in this life was granted him by education, wealth, social position— precisely that freedom made the choice of an occupation insolubly difficult and destroyed the very need and possibility of an occupation.

All Pierre’s dreams were now turned to the time when he would be free. And yet afterwards and for the whole of his life Pierre thought and spoke with rapture of that month of captivity, of those irrevocable, strong, and joyful sensations, and above all of that full peace of mind, that perfect inner freedom, which he experienced only in that time.

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov
Page Number: 1013
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 4, Part 4: Chapters 12–14 Quotes

Formerly he had been unable to see the great, the unfathomable and infinite, in anything. […] He had armed himself with a mental spyglass and gazed into the distance, where the petty and humdrum, disappearing in the distant mist, had seemed to him great and infinite, only because it was not clearly visible. Thus he had looked at European life, politics, Masonry, philosophy, philanthropy. But even then, in moments he regarded as his own weakness, his mind had penetrated this distance, and there, too, he had seen the petty, the humdrum, the meaningless. Now he had learned to see the great, the eternal, and the infinite in everything, and therefore, in order to see it, to enjoy contemplating it, he had naturally abandoned the spyglass he had been looking through until then over people’s heads […] And the closer he looked, the calmer and happier he became.

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov
Page Number: 1104
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 4, Part 4: Chapters 15–20 Quotes

Pierre told of his adventures as he had never told them to anyone, as he had never yet recalled them to himself. It was as if he now saw a new significance in everything he had lived through. […] Natasha, not knowing it herself, was all attention: she did not miss a word of Pierre’s, not a waver in his voice, not a glance, not the twitch of a facial muscle, not a gesture. She caught the not-yet-spoken word in flight and brought it straight into her open heart, guessing the secret meaning of all Pierre’s inner work.

Related Characters: Pierre Bezukhov, Natasha Rostov
Page Number: 1117
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue, Part 1: Chapters 8–16 Quotes

She, as they put it, let herself go. Natasha took no trouble either about her manners, or about the delicacy of her speech, or about showing herself to her husband in the most advantageous poses, or about her toilette, or about not hampering her husband with her demands. She did everything contrary to these rules. […]

The subject that absorbed Natasha fully was her family— that is, her husband, who had to be kept in such a way as to belong entirely to her, to the household; and her children, whom she had to carry, give birth to, nurse, and bring up.

Related Characters: Natasha Rostov, Pierre Bezukhov
Page Number: 1155
Explanation and Analysis:
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Pierre Bezukhov Character Timeline in War and Peace

The timeline below shows where the character Pierre Bezukhov appears in War and Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 1–4
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...Princess Bolkonsky, beautiful and aglow with her pregnancy, charms everyone, especially the men. There’s also Pierre, the illegitimate son of Count Bezukhov (a dying courtier from Catherine the Great’s time). Pierre... (full context)
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...moment, and Bonaparte later had the duke killed for his “magnanimity.” Anna Pavlovna intervenes in Pierre and the abbé Morio’s animated political discussion—the abbé is presenting his pet project, a scheme... (full context)
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...adjutant, and that Lise will stay with his family in the country while he serves. Pierre talks with Bolkonsky, and they admire Princess Hélène as she and her father Prince Vassily... (full context)
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...French have ceased to see Bonaparte as a hero. But then, to Anna Pavlovna’s horror, Pierre bursts into the conversation praising Bonaparte for executing the duc d’Enghien. He sees Bonaparte as... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 5–6
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The guests begin to leave. Pierre leaves as awkwardly as he arrived, yet his warm, sincere smile inclines everyone to forgive... (full context)
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At home, Prince Andrei and his friend Pierre discuss the latter’s future. While in Petersburg, Pierre is supposed to be choosing a career,... (full context)
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Princess Lise comes in, and Pierre changes the subject to the Princess’s impending departure for the countryside. When the Princess says... (full context)
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Prince Andrei and Pierre have supper. Eventually, Andrei passionately blurts out a warning to his friend: never get married;... (full context)
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Late that night, Pierre heads home by hired carriage, but at the last moment, he changes his mind and... (full context)
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While making Pierre drink glass after glass of wine, Anatole explains that Dolokhov, an army officer, is making... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 7–11
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...the drawing room, conversation focuses on the current gossip: Count Bezukhov’s illness, and his son Pierre’s improper behavior at Anna Pavlovna Scherer’s soirée. And now Pierre has been banished to Moscow... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 12–13
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...his deathbed, Anna Mikhailovna, undeterred, insists on seeing him. Meanwhile, she sends Boris to invite Pierre to dinner at the Rostovs’. (full context)
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Pierre returned several days ago, after being banished to Moscow for his part in the antics... (full context)
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Pierre engages Boris in conversation about Napoleon’s Villeneuve expedition, but Boris isn’t familiar with the news.... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 14–17
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...Akhrosimov, a rudely frank society lady whom everyone respects and fears, scolds the late arriving Pierre about his escapade with the bear. In his study, the Count smokes pipes and listens... (full context)
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Later, during the dancing, Natasha claims Pierre as her dance partner, and the countess marvels at the poised, grown-up way Natasha chats... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 18–21
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...only heirs. But last winter the Count wrote a will bequeathing all his property to Pierre instead. What if, he wonders, the Count has legally adopted Pierre, making him no longer... (full context)
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...the will can be found in the inlaid portfolio kept under the Count’s pillow. Meanwhile, Pierre and Anna Mikhailovna arrive at Count Bezukhov’s; the Count has sent for Pierre. Their carriage... (full context)
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Anna Mikhailovna, bold and self-assured, and Pierre enter Count Bezukhov’s anteroom, where the doctor and some clergymen are sitting. Anna Mikhailovna disappears... (full context)
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After tea, Pierre finds Anna Mikhailovna blocking Catiche from reentering the bedroom to talk to Count Bezukhov about... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapter 22
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...his nobility and poetic spirit. Julie also mentions the gossip surrounding Count Bezukhov’s death and Pierre’s controversial inheritance. In consequence, women’s attitudes toward Pierre have changed overnight. In the meantime, Princess... (full context)
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...love for both neighbor and enemy—is sweeter still than romantic love. She speaks warmly of Pierre, whose warm heart she’s always admired, and pities him the burden of wealth he’ll now... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 1–5
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...instinctively forms schemes as situations demand—befriending the wealthy and influential, for example. Lately he’s had Pierre appointed to a government position and moved him into Vassily’s Petersburg house. Without consciously thinking... (full context)
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As the new Count Bezukhov, Pierre’s life suddenly becomes much busier, taken up with duties he doesn’t understand and doesn’t care... (full context)
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...the aftermath of Count Bezukhov’s death, Prince Vassily spends all his time guiding the hapless Pierre. Pierre’s harried new life is much the same, except that most of his old friends... (full context)
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...off the young couple to keep her elderly aunt company. Though uninterested in the conversation, Pierre notices for the first time how beautiful Hélène is and suddenly feels that she must... (full context)
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...of marrying his son Anatole to the wealthy prince’s daughter Marya. But he’s concerned that Pierre, who still hasn’t proposed to Hélène, is wasting valuable time. Pierre, for his part, is... (full context)
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...couple at the other end of the table. Happy to be the center of attention, Pierre is nevertheless puzzled by this turn of events and unsure how the proposal will come... (full context)
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At last Prince Vassily, frustrated, walks right up to Pierre and Hélène and congratulates them on their engagement, calling his wife to do the same.... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 1: Chapters 1–6
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...Boris. In pitying tones, she gossips about the countess Hélène’s rumored affair with Dolokhov, whom Pierre had invited to his Petersburg estate. (full context)
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At the dinner, Pierre walks absentmindedly through the rooms, used to being treated obsequiously because of his wealth. Thanks... (full context)
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Though Pierre eats and drinks as much as ever, he seems distracted and depressed. It’s about the... (full context)
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Pierre is so lost in thought that he fails to toast the Emperor. Then, Dolokhov provokes... (full context)
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Early the next morning, Pierre, Nesvitsky, Dolokhov, Denisov, and Rostov meet at the Sokolniki woods. Pierre hasn’t slept. He feels... (full context)
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...human will. Denisov counts to three, and the adversaries start marching toward each other. When Pierre fires in Dolokhov’s direction, the loud gunshot startles Pierre. There’s no return shot. As the... (full context)
At home, Pierre paces the old Count Bezukhov’s study, unable to rest. He keeps picturing his wife’s face... (full context)
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Pierre alternates between blaming Hélène for her depravity and blaming himself for lying and saying he... (full context)
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However, first thing the next morning, Hélène herself confronts Pierre, looking elegant and wrathful. She tells Pierre that he did this because he believes whatever... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 1: Chapters 10–16
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...her son is too “pure-hearted” for this wicked world, and that it was unjust of Pierre to challenge him to a duel—doesn’t everybody have love affairs these days? Dolokhov seems to... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 1–4
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After arguing with his wife, Pierre goes to Petersburg. As he waits at the posting station, lost in thought, he feels... (full context)
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Another traveler, waiting for horses, is brought into Pierre’s waiting room. The man is squat, wrinkled, and elderly with heavy brows over glittering eyes.... (full context)
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When Pierre asks, the man acknowledges that he belongs to the brotherhood of Freemasons. Pierre feels torn—he... (full context)
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Reluctantly, Pierre admits that he doesn’t believe in God. The Mason smiles like a wealthy man about... (full context)
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Pierre is transfixed by the stranger’s words. He’s not sure if he believes the content of... (full context)
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After the man goes, Pierre looks at the postmaster’s register and learns that his name was Osip Alexeevich Bazdeev, a... (full context)
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When Pierre arrives in Petersburg, he spends his time reading Thomas à Kempis. The book shows him... (full context)
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Count Willarski asks Pierre if he wishes to join the Freemasons under his sponsorship. He also asks Pierre if... (full context)
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Pierre waits for about five minutes, going through a series of emotions: fear, curiosity, and most... (full context)
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Half an hour later, the rhetor returns and tells Pierre the seven virtues which Masons are expected to cultivate. These correspond to the seven steps... (full context)
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...that Masonic induction communicates its teachings not just verbally, but through symbolic hieroglyphs. He asks Pierre to hand over his valuables as a sign of generosity. Then he tells Pierre to... (full context)
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Pierre is finally allowed to sit down at the table, and the grand master reads the... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 5–9
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The next day, Pierre sits at home, reading and daydreaming about the new life he’s about to begin. Just... (full context)
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Though Pierre and Dolokhov suffer no legal consequences for the duel, rumors spread. Now that Pierre is... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 10–14
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After becoming a Mason, Pierre sets out for his estate in Kiev with big plans for the peasants there. He... (full context)
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Townspeople begin to seek out acquaintance with Pierre, their new rich neighbor. At the same time, Pierre’s weakness for women persists. Instead of... (full context)
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In the spring of 1807, Pierre decides to return to Petersburg. On the way, he plans to stop at his various... (full context)
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Rejuvenated from the country, Pierre decides to visit Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, whom he hasn’t seen for two years. He finds... (full context)
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Eventually, their conversation drifts to Pierre’s marriage. When Pierre says it would’ve been wrong to kill Dolokhov in the duel, Prince... (full context)
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Prince Andrei says that Pierre will get along well with Princess Marya. He also says that his experience has been... (full context)
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Pierre finds this view appalling, but Andrei maintains that he didn’t choose to be alive, so... (full context)
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That evening, Prince Andrei and Pierre drive to Bald Hills. Pierre is downcast—he keeps wanting to enlighten Prince Andrei with Masonic... (full context)
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...be true that the Masons alone know the nature of truth—aren’t they just people, too? Pierre explains that truth is discovered by seeing oneself as a step in the interconnected structure... (full context)
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...have taken the carriage off, the two men continue to stand on the ferry, talking. Pierre argues that if there’s a future life, then there is also truth and virtue, and... (full context)
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As Pierre and Prince Andrei arrive at Bald Hills, Prince Andrei points out four people, including a... (full context)
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...icon she saw in Kolyazin—holy oil dripped down the cheek of the Mother of God. Pierre protests that such phenomena are tricks played on the people. When Prince Andrei continues to... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 1–6
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...still lives in the country. Without saying anything about it, Andrei has quietly carried out Pierre’s intended reforms—he has all the practicality and follow-through that Pierre lacks. One of Andrei’s estates... (full context)
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...to live for himself alone; he wants his life to be joined to everyone’s, like Pierre’s, and the laughing girl’s. (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 7–10
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The timeline shifts to two years earlier, in 1808, when Pierre accidentally becomes head of the Petersburg Masons. He organizes events, recruits members, and donates lots... (full context)
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The longer he participates in Masonry, though, the more Pierre feels that its ground is giving way beneath him. He knows most of his brother... (full context)
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Pierre returns from his travels in the summer of 1809. The lodge convenes a special session... (full context)
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After his speech, Pierre becomes depressed. He languishes at home until he receives a letter from his wife, saying... (full context)
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In November, Pierre goes to visit Iosif Alexeevich, who’s been ill. After Pierre gives his account of the... (full context)
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A few days later, Pierre reunites with his wife Hélène. He decides to forgive her for virtue’s sake, though he... (full context)
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...Erfurt meeting, Hélène made many French connections and even attracted Napoleon’s attention at the theater. Pierre is surprised to discover that society men like Bilibin strive for Hélène’s approval, that people... (full context)
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Pierre serves Hélène’s interests well. Because he’s eccentric and spiritually occupied, he’s genuinely indifferent to what... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 11–17
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Boris, Pierre, and Berg all become regulars at the Rostovs’ suppers. Since surviving a couple of minor... (full context)
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...polonaise, a waltz begins. The Rostovs are asked to step aside to make room. Eventually, Pierre walks up to Prince Andrei, who’s chatting with someone about politics, and asks him to... (full context)
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...shyness, and awkward French. Natasha says that she’s never enjoyed herself more in her life. Pierre, however, is having a gloomy evening, and Natasha, seeing his troubled expression, wishes she could... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 18–22
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...the earthly. Unable to sleep that night, he makes plans for the future, deciding that Pierre was right: a person must believe in the possibility of happiness and enjoy it while... (full context)
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One morning Colonel Berg visits Pierre and invites him to a soirée he’s throwing with Vera; Hélène had turned him down.... (full context)
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As one of the more honored guests, Pierre sits at a card game with Count Rostov. Natasha sits there, too, and Pierre notices... (full context)
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...their meeting again in Petersburg was fate. At the same time, Prince Andrei confides in Pierre that he loves Natasha and plans to propose. (full context)
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Countess Bezukhov is having a party that night. Pierre wanders through the party with a sad, distracted look.  Ever since the Emperor’s ball, he’s... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 23–26
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...laugh wholeheartedly. However, his impending trip abroad hangs over them. The night before his departure, Pierre joins the Rostovs for dinner. Prince Andrei explains that Pierre knows about the engagement and... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 1–4
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After Prince Andrei and Natasha get engaged, Pierre feels like he can’t go on with life as it is. His mentor Iosif Alexeevich... (full context)
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Arriving in Moscow, Pierre feels he’s come home again. He fits in here, embraced as a good-natured, generous eccentric.... (full context)
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When he stops to think about it, Pierre senses that everybody else is aware of life’s fundamental hypocrisy, yet they refuse to acknowledge... (full context)
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Princess Marya doesn’t pay much attention to the conversation. After the other guests have gone, Pierre sits and talks with Marya. He warns her that Boris has come to Moscow with... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 5–10
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Pierre is correct. Boris Drubetskoy did indeed come to Moscow in search of a rich bride;... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 11–13
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...commander in chief’s adjutant—and try to find a good match. Anatole agrees and stays with Pierre, who grows to like him. (full context)
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...her to be secluded and bored. Knowing Hélène is married to a moral fellow like Pierre, Natasha figures everything must be all right. When Marya Dmitrievna gets home, she discourages the... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 18–22
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Pierre has been avoiding Natasha, to whom he’s attracted, but when Marya Dmitrievna sends him a... (full context)
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...Rostov or Prince Andrei learn what’s happened, they’ll challenge Anatole to a duel. She asks Pierre to order his brother-in-law to leave Moscow, and he agrees. He also talks with Count... (full context)
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Sonya intercepts Pierre on his way out. She says that Marya Dmitrievna has told Natasha about Anatole’s marriage,... (full context)
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Pierre asks Anatole if he can understand that there’s more to life than his own pleasure—other... (full context)
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...Moscow until she regains strength. Meanwhile, rumors spread around town about the attempted abduction, and Pierre does his best to quash these. (full context)
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Pierre gets a note from Prince Andrei, who’s just arrived in Moscow. As soon as Andrei... (full context)
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In the study, Pierre finds Prince Andrei in an animated political argument with his father and another prince about... (full context)
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That evening, Pierre gives Marya Dmitrievna the letters from Prince Andrei. Natasha has gotten dressed and asks to... (full context)
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Pierre leaves Marya Dmitrievna’s, thinking about Natasha’s grateful look. He feels great tenderness toward her. Compared... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 8–11
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After Prince Andrei meets with Pierre in Moscow, he travels to Petersburg to meet with Prince Anatole Kuragin. Having been tipped... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 16–18
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...and joy will never be hers again. Sometimes Petya can make her laugh, and when Pierre comes to visit, she is grateful for his tenderness. She thinks Pierre is kind to... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 19–23
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Ever since Pierre left the Rostovs’ house and saw the comet in the sky, his old tormenting questions... (full context)
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A fellow Mason shows Pierre a verse in the Book of Revelation, explaining that it’s a prophecy of Napoleon. He... (full context)
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By experimenting with this alphanumeric code and variant spellings of his name, Pierre figures out that “L’russe Besuhof” adds up to 666, suggesting to him that, in some... (full context)
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Pierre has promised to visit the Rostovs with war news. When he stops at Count Rastopchin’s... (full context)
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When Pierre arrives at the Rostovs’ that evening, he finds Natasha practicing her scales, the first time... (full context)
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The rest of the family comes in and wants to see the manifesto Pierre has brought—a war appeal from the Emperor. The manifesto tells of the threat to Russia,... (full context)
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After Pierre’s visit, Petya goes to his room and cries. The next day, he dresses carefully. The... (full context)
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...Slobodsky palace. The palace’s halls are filled with nobles and merchants, milling around and talking. Pierre is there, excited about the mix of classes and the fact that the sovereign said... (full context)
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Pierre interrupts an elderly senator in overly correct Russian with French sprinkled in. He argues that... (full context)
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Pierre now feels ashamed of the “constitutional tendency” he’s just shown, and to make up for... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 15–18
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...have to make a donation to the war effort. Julie is leaving Moscow shortly, and Pierre comes to her farewell soirée, where people have just been joking about the militia he... (full context)
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...on waiting for Petya, who’s joined the Cossacks but is soon to be transferred to Pierre’s regiment. Julie teases Pierre about Natasha, calling him her “knight,” and Pierre gets annoyed. Julie... (full context)
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When he gets home, Pierre looks at some of Rastopchin’s posters. One of the posters insists that the enemy will... (full context)
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By this time, most of Pierre’s acquaintances have left Moscow. He has other troubles—in order to fund a regiment, he’ll have... (full context)
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The next day Pierre sets out for Mozhaisk, which is filled with troops of every kind. He feels both... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 19–23
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On the morning of August 25th, Pierre drives out of Mozhaisk. He watches a train of carts being driven up the hill... (full context)
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...harried because he anticipates 20,000 wounded in the coming battle, and the army isn’t prepared. Pierre tries to grasp this idea. How can so many men—now healthy and even cheerful—be facing... (full context)
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Pierre climbs the hill in the late morning sun, overlooking the village of Borodino and the... (full context)
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Pierre talks with a nearby officer, who points out the enemy troops. The officer isn’t sure... (full context)
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As Pierre goes back down the hill, he sees a church procession coming from the direction of... (full context)
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In the middle of the crush of people, Boris Drubetskoy approaches Pierre. When Pierre explains his desire to take part in the battle, Boris invites Pierre to... (full context)
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Kutuzov notices the crowd surrounding Pierre and wants to see him. On his way, Pierre spots Dolokhov and learns that his... (full context)
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...left and climbs a high barrow onto what will become known as the Raevsky redoubt. Pierre doesn’t pay much attention to it, not knowing that this will be the battlefield’s most... (full context)
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Pierre listens carefully to Bennigsen’s explanation of the troops’ position, but he finds it difficult to... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 24–25
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Prince Andrei hears someone cursing in French outside his shelter. He finds Pierre tripping over a pole. Pierre stutters awkwardly when he sees the hostility in Andrei’s face.... (full context)
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Prince Andrei and Pierre hear Wolzogen and Clausewitz riding by, conversing in German. They’re discussing the importance of weakening... (full context)
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...by saying that it’s become difficult for him to live—he understands too much. He embraces Pierre and goes back into his shed. Pierre is sure he won’t see Andrei again. (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 30–35
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The next morning, Pierre wakes up in a corner of Boris’s cottage. The windows are rattling with gunfire, and... (full context)
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When Pierre loses track of the general, he gets stuck in the middle of some infantry ranks,... (full context)
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The place where Pierre is standing is called the Raevsky battery, which the French consider to be the most... (full context)
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Suddenly cannonballs begin to fall thickly on the battery. Pierre volunteers to run down the hill and bring the caissons from the reserves, but by... (full context)
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Without thinking, Pierre runs back to the battery for refuge. He doesn’t realize that the senior colonel is... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 5–9
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...asks her to marry him, and she considers this, claiming never to have slept with Pierre. So her lover goes to the Jesuits for advice, and soon a priest visits her... (full context)
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...Princess Kuragin’s doubts dissolve; it all seems simple to her now. By August, Hélène writes Pierre a letter telling him about her conversion to Catholicism and her decision to remarry. She... (full context)
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After running down the hill from the Raevsky battery at the battle of Borodino, all Pierre wants to do is return to normal life and fall asleep in his own bed.... (full context)
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Pierre struggles to sleep because he keeps hearing the noises of war in his mind. He... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 10–14
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On August 30th, Pierre returns to Moscow. He immediately runs into Count Rastopchin’s adjutant who says Pierre must go... (full context)
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Pierre is called into Rastopchin’s study. Rastopchin sternly asks him if he’s one of those Masons... (full context)
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At home that evening, Pierre reads Hélène’s letter, but he cannot make sense of it and collapses into bed. The... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 15–17
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...happily watches the train of carts bearing the wounded. A few streets later, she spots Pierre walking with a little old man. Initially lost in thought, Pierre notices Natasha and greets... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 18–22
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For the past two days, Pierre has been living in Bazdeev’s empty apartment. Since the day after his arrival in Moscow,... (full context)
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On the way to his old mentor’s house, the cabby tells Pierre about the battle that’s expected at the Three Hills gate tomorrow. When he reaches the... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 27–29
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By the evening of September 2nd, the French reach Pierre’s neighborhood. Pierre has been alone for two days, and he’s nearly gone mad. He’d left... (full context)
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When an attempted people’s defense at the Three Hills doesn’t amount to anything, Pierre decides it is his job to kill Napoleon, even if he dies in the attempt.... (full context)
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As the French enter Moscow, Pierre pictures his heroism in killing Napoleon and images what he’ll say as he strikes the... (full context)
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...looks around, apparently satisfied with what he sees. He greets the household cheerfully in French. Pierre doesn’t respond, not wanting to reveal that he knows French. Then Makar Alexeevich bursts out... (full context)
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The French officer continues to regard Pierre as an honorary Frenchman, and Pierre can’t resist the man’s friendly nature. He introduces himself... (full context)
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After dinner, Pierre feels tormented. It’s not because Moscow has fallen to the French, but because he’s aware... (full context)
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As Pierre listens to the Frenchman’s stories, he thinks of Natasha and their farewell a few days... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 33–34
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On September 3rd, Pierre wakes up feeling ashamed. He remembers his conversation with Ramballe the night before. He also... (full context)
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The Moscow fire has grown overnight. As Pierre walks through the city, French soldiers look at him with astonishment, unable to classify him... (full context)
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Suddenly Pierre hears a woman’s cry nearby. He sees a middle-aged woman, some children, and a nanny... (full context)
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A looting Frenchman leads Pierre to the garden behind the house. He finds a three-year-old girl hiding under a bench.... (full context)
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All of a sudden, Pierre feels his hands being tied. A crowd of French soldiers surrounds him. When the soldiers... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 1: Chapters 1–3
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...this uncertainty, Hélène Bezukhov dies. Though angina is the official cause, people speculate that, when Pierre failed to answer Hélène’s last letter, she took a suicidal dose of medicine and died... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 1: Chapters 9–13
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The officers who arrested Pierre treat him respectfully at first. The next morning, however, after the shift changes, the soldiers... (full context)
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A few days later, Pierre is questioned in relation to the charge of arson. It’s clear that the interrogators have... (full context)
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On September 8th, Pierre and the other 13 prisoners are led from the shed where they’ve been kept and... (full context)
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Pierre and the other prisoners are taken to the house of Prince Shcherbatov, which Pierre used... (full context)
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Just then, however, Davout is distracted by good news from an adjutant. He orders Pierre taken away. With the others, Pierre walks numbly, believing he’s going to be executed. He... (full context)
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The prisoners are taken to Devichye field, which Pierre knows to be the place of executions. In a garden, there’s a post and a... (full context)
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Pierre hears some French soldiers debating about how to shoot them. The sentence is read in... (full context)
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After the executions, Pierre is left alone for a while in an abandoned church. Later, some soldiers come and... (full context)
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...barely visible in the darkness, a little man with a gentle, melodious voice is watching Pierre. When he asks Pierre, “So you’ve seen a lot of misery, master?” Pierre almost starts... (full context)
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Pierre is held prisoner for four weeks. Though much of this remains a fog in Pierre’s... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 2: Chapters 8–14
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These days Pierre wears tattered peasant’s clothing, is thinner, and sports an overgrown beard. He is calm and... (full context)
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...Platon to give back the leftover fabric, but Platon, pretending not to understand, refuses. Finally Pierre translates, and Platon reluctantly hands over the scraps—he’d hoped to use them to make foot... (full context)
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It’s been four weeks since Pierre was taken prisoner, and he’s insisted on staying in the soldiers’ shed, though he was... (full context)
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Now that Pierre has nothing, he imagines that the greatest happiness in life is having one’s basic needs... (full context)
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On the morning of October 7th, the prisoners are dressed to move out. Pierre comforts a sick soldier and approaches the friendly corporal to see what can be done... (full context)
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Pierre’s group of prisoners gets stuck for several hours at an intersection, surrounded by the endless... (full context)
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...ever, giving them their dinner ration in horsemeat. They announce that stragglers will be shot. Pierre feels frightened of this impersonal, hostile force, yet he also feels a strong force of... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 3: Chapters 5–11
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...Denisov and Dolokhov succeed in retaking Russian prisoners from the French. Among the prisoners is Pierre Bezukhov. (full context)
Volume 4, Part 3: Chapters 12–15
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Throughout their march, Pierre has noticed the French becoming more and more disorderly. Supply wagons have been captured or... (full context)
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During this long march, Pierre learns that there isn’t anything truly frightening in the world. He’s discovered that there’s no... (full context)
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On October 22nd, Pierre walks along with Gray the dog, thinking about a conversation with Platon Karataev the night... (full context)
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...prisoners; they form up to let a well-dressed convoy pass by. About the same time, Pierre spots Karataev leaning against a tree, his face both tender and solemn. Karataev catches Pierre’s... (full context)
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The prisoners reach the village of Shamshevo, and Pierre falls asleep by the fire. He dreams vividly of Karataev, knowing that the hardest and... (full context)
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The next time Pierre wakes, he hears joyful shouting. Cossacks surround the soldiers, offering them clothes and food. Pierre... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 4: Chapters 12–14
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After Pierre is released from captivity, he falls ill for three months. He can’t remember much about... (full context)
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Gradually, as Pierre recovers in Kiev, he gets used to the fact that nobody is going to force... (full context)
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Outwardly, Pierre hasn’t changed. He looks the same, and he’s just as absentminded. Only now, instead of... (full context)
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One day Count Willarski, who had inducted Pierre into the Masonic lodge, passes through town and eagerly stops by for a visit. He... (full context)
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Somehow, Pierre is also more confident about the practical details of dispensing his fortune. Instead of giving... (full context)
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However, Pierre changes his mind and decides to return to Moscow, deal with his late wife’s debts,... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 4: Chapters 15–20
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Pierre arrives in Moscow at the end of January. The capital is full of life. Everyone... (full context)
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Princess Marya admits Pierre to her room. A lady in a black dress is also there, but Pierre doesn’t... (full context)
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Grateful to hear that Prince Andrei “softened” before he died, Pierre tells Natasha that her reunion with Andrei was a happy thing. She frowns but agrees,... (full context)
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...dining room, she’s calm. After the heartfelt conversation, everyone feels a little awkward, but gradually Pierre begins talking about his return to Moscow. He wryly notes that he’s become an “interesting... (full context)
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Pierre continues talking about rescuing the little girl and witnessing the executions; Natasha urges him not... (full context)
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When Natasha and Princess Marya go to bed, they talk about Pierre. Natasha says it feels good to have talked about everything, and that Pierre seems somehow... (full context)
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Arriving at Princess Marya’s, Pierre feels a momentary doubt about what happened yesterday, but he soon senses Natasha’s presence, like... (full context)
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...that’s not true: for the past three days, Natasha has been completely different. She tells Pierre to leave things to her—she knows that Natasha loves him or will love him. Pierre... (full context)
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During his time in Petersburg, Pierre relives his visits with Natasha over and over. He wonders at his joy and occasionally... (full context)
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Ever since her reunion with Pierre, something new has awakened in Natasha’s soul. She forgets her grief and no longer dreads... (full context)
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When Natasha hears that Pierre has gone to Petersburg, she begins to cry and begs Marya to teach her—she’s so... (full context)
Epilogue, Part 1: Chapters 5–7
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Natasha married Pierre Bezukhov in 1813. It was the Rostovs’ last happy family event; the Count died in... (full context)
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...Nikolai’s plans to repay the debts work out, so after accepting 30,000 from his brother-in-law Pierre, he takes a civil service post to pay off the rest. He moves into a... (full context)
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Natasha and Pierre don’t realize how bad Nikolai’s situation is. He not only has to support the Countess... (full context)
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...Bald Hills. The marriage allows Nikolai to repay his father’s debts and to pay back Pierre as well. By 1820, he’s negotiating to buy back his father’s beloved Otradnoe estate. In... (full context)
Epilogue, Part 1: Chapters 8–16
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In December, 1820, Natasha and her children are visiting Bald Hills while Pierre is doing business in Petersburg. Nikolai’s old friend Denisov also comes to visit. On the... (full context)
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Natasha and Pierre married in the early spring of 1813, and by 1820, she has three daughters and... (full context)
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Since they married, Pierre and Natasha have lived in both Petersburg and Moscow and with Nikolai. Society isn’t very... (full context)
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When they got married, Pierre was surprised by Natasha’s demand that his life belong to her, but he happily submitted.... (full context)
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Two months earlier, Pierre had gone to Petersburg for several weeks. He stayed longer than they agreed, and Natasha... (full context)
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The household at Bald Hills consists of several completely different worlds. Pierre’s homecoming has an effect on each of these. The servants are happy because this means... (full context)
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Pierre has always been absentminded, but this time he’s carried out all the errands and brought... (full context)
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When Pierre and Natasha bring gifts to the Countess, —who’s often moody these days, mainly looking forward... (full context)
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...that follows, the group listens to the laughter of the children in the next room. Pierre jumps up to see what the children are up to. He comments that the “music”... (full context)
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...children go to bed, Nikolenka asks to stay behind so he can spend time with Pierre. Pierre tells Nikolenka he looks like his father Andrei. Nikolenka sits shyly in a corner... (full context)
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Pierre says that independent thinkers must stand against corrupting trends in government. Nikolai is skeptical; he... (full context)
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As they get up for supper, Nikolenka goes up to Pierre and asks if his father Prince Andrei would have shared Pierre’s views. Pierre realizes how... (full context)
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Supper is friendlier, as Nikolai, Denisov, and Pierre reminisce about 1812. Afterward, when Nikolai goes to his bedroom, he finds Marya writing in... (full context)
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Their conversation shifts to Nikolenka’s intrusion into the debate in Pierre’s study. Nikolai particularly resents Natasha’s siding with Pierre, especially since she only parrots Pierre’s arguments.... (full context)
European Culture vs. The Russian Soul Theme Icon
Love, Marriage, and Family Theme Icon
Happiness and the Meaning of Life  Theme Icon
Alone with Pierre, Natasha embraces her husband, and they begin talking in the allusive, intuitive way of a... (full context)
Natasha asks Pierre if Platon Karataev would have approved of his activities. Pierre reflects that Platon would have... (full context)
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European Culture vs. The Russian Soul Theme Icon
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The moment passes, and they both start talking at once. Pierre continues talking about his time in Petersburg—he feels it’s his duty to guide Russian society... (full context)
European Culture vs. The Russian Soul Theme Icon
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Downstairs, Nikolenka wakes up from a bad dream in which he and Pierre were marching in a huge army. The rest of the army consists of slanting white... (full context)