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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Book II: Part I

Summary

Book II opens with Nikolai Rostovís arrival home. The Rostovs welcome him and hid friend, Denisov heartily. They are proud of Nikolai and hear his stories of adventure on the battlefield with excitement. Natasha takes a liking for Denisov and Sonya declares her love for Nikolai, though the latter is not sure of his love for his cousin. Nikolai makes the best of his holidays by attending parties, balls and the theatre. Shortly afterwards, Count Rostov throws a party in honor of Prince Bagration. All the important people of the town attend it and have fun except Pierre. The young Bezukhov is suspicious of his wifeís relationship with Dolokhov who had enjoyed his hospitality in the recent past. Torn with doubt, he gets provoked by Dolokhovís attitude at the party and challenges the latter for a duel.

On the day of the duel, the two parties face each other on a snowy terrain. Nesvitsky acts as the second for Pierre, while Rostov serves as the second for Dolokhov. The rivals face each other with hatred, but are apprehensive about their action. However, they deal blows to each other. Pierre overpowers Dolokhov and injures him. Dolokhov is taken to his widowed mother and given medication. Nikolai visits him every day and under his supervision, Dolokhov recovers. Nikolai invites Dolokhov home and introduces him to his family members. Dolokhov casts his evil eye on Sonya and proposes to her. Sonya rejects him, even though Nikolai persuades her to accept the offer. Dolokhov feels insulted and leaves never to return.

In the mean time, Pierre comes face to face with his wife who abuses him for suspecting her and attacking Dolokhov. Pierre is convinced about Ellenís debased nature and is repulsed by her presence. Unable to tolerate her any longer, he decides to separate from her, after consenting to give her the best part of his estate. At Bald Hills, Little Princess goes through the pangs of childbirth. As Marya experiences anxiety, Andrei arrives home to the surprise of everyone, as they had imagined him dead. He is just in time to offer a few words of encouragement to Lisa, before she goes into labor. Shortly afterwards, the child is born but Lisa dies. As Lisa is buried, the infant is taken care of by a wet nurse.


Denisov charms all the members of the Rostov family with his pleasing presence and suave manners. Natasha admires him and becomes friendly with him but Denisov falls in love with her and proposes to her. Natasha is confused. She likes Denisov as a friend but is unable to accept him as her husband. Thus, she declines his offer. Denisov bids goodbye to them and leaves for the army camp.

Shortly afterwards, Dolokhov invites Nikolai to a party in his hotel room. When Nikolai reaches the hotel room, Dolokhov receives him coldly and traps him to play a game of cards with him. Nikolai is not interested but feels helpless to get out of the scene. Thus, he plays a number of games, losing each time and getting into greater debts. At the end of the day, he owes Dolokhov forty three thousand rubles. Dolokhovís thirst for revenge is quenched but Nikolai feels guilty and shameful. With his mind in turmoil, he reaches home to find the others indulging in pleasant pastimes. After the Count arrives home, he informs him about his misfortune and asks for a loan of forty three thousand rubles. The Count agrees to help but asks for time. After a week, Nikolai sends the money to Dolokhov and later, leaves for Poland to join his regiment.

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