War and Peace

War and Peace

by

Leo Tolstoy

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War and Peace: Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 15–17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On a cheerful autumn Sunday, the church bells ring as usual. For the most part, there’s little sign of what’s to come for Moscow. One exception is the crowd of mostly workers, peasants, and poor people who gather at Three Hills, weapons in hand. But when Count Rastopchin doesn’t join them as promised, they disperse.
Moscow is deceptively peaceful. A popular uprising in defense of Russia doesn’t materialize, despite Rastopchin’s propaganda campaign.
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That morning, more and more wounded show up at the house, begging for the use of carts, but the butler refuses, knowing they’ll soon run out of carts and be left with nothing for the family. When the Count gets up, two men approach him directly, and the Count promptly offers them rides on his carts. Seeing this, more wounded men approach. By the time the Countess wakes up, so many wounded have been granted rides that the Rostovs’ belongings are being unloaded from the carts. The Count timidly pleads with her, but the Countess objects to his decision.
The wounded from Borodino don’t want to be left at the mercy of the French. The soft-hearted Count is helpless in the face of these pleas, while the Countess knows that being too generous might compromise her family’s evacuation.
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Outside in the courtyard, Petya tells Natasha that their parents are quarrelling over giving carts to the wounded. Natasha runs inside and passionately begs her mother that the wounded not be abandoned; it doesn’t matter if their things get left behind. Ashamed, the Countess gives in. Natasha joyfully runs outside and begins giving orders for trunks to be stored and carts to be given to the wounded. Soon, random possessions are scattered across the courtyard, and wounded men come from neighboring houses seeking space on carts.
Energized by the opportunity to be generous in a crisis, Natasha continues to throw herself into the rescue effort and take charge of the situation.
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By two o’clock, the train of carts and carriages drives out of the Rostovs’ courtyard. Prince Andrei’s carriage catches Sonya’s attention, and when she learns who’s inside, she runs to tell the Countess. The Countess weeps when she hears that Andrei is said to be dying. They both know Natasha shouldn’t find out.
For the time being, the Countess and Sonya mercifully spare Natasha the news that her dying ex-fiancé is among their caravan.
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At long last, the carriages bearing the Rostovs make their way down the street. Every so often, Natasha leans out and 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 the astonished Rostovs, walking beside their carriage. He says he’s staying behind in Moscow and that there will be a battle tomorrow. His last words to them are, “Terrible times!” Natasha beams at him as her carriage drives away.
Pierre crosses paths with the Rostovs again, his intentions mysterious for the time being. Natasha continues to delight in the novelty and exhilaration of the evacuation, not yet guessing that she’ll lose more than material possessions.
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