War and Peace

War and Peace


Leo Tolstoy

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The sky symbolizes the eternal, unfathomable aspect of human life, though this means something different to each character. In general, glimpses of the sky assure people that life and meaning endure beyond their immediate sufferings…

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Tolstoy likens the events of war to the precisely tuned workings of a mechanical clock. For example, in the days preceding the battle of Austerlitz, battle preparations tick down as inevitably as the motions of…

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Oak Tree

The oak tree symbolizes the indispensable role of hope in human flourishing. One day in 1809, Prince Andrei sees a gnarled oak tree in the woods, which seems to resist the coming of spring. At…

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The comet of 1812 symbolizes the growth of Pierre’s soul in unselfish love, though it takes Pierre a while to understand this. Pierre sees the comet for the first time after consoling Natasha (who’s…

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