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 that time, the tree symbolizes the stagnation in Andrei’s own life; he feels there’s nothing to live for. Later, after meeting Natasha Rostov and seeing her joyful openness to life, Andrei feels renewed hope for his future. When he spots the same oak tree again, it’s bursting with fresh leaves, almost unrecognizably transformed.
Oak Tree Quotes in War and Peace
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.