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Part IV of Book II is devoted to the Rostovs. The Rostovs suffer a financial setback due to the inability of the Count to manage his affairs. The Count fails to keep the accounts of his estate in order and the defaulters in check. When he feels helpless to improve the situation, the Countess calls back Nikolai from his army camp to mend matters. Nikolai returns home but is able to do little to salvage the mess created by his father. He has neither the knowledge of the affairs of his estate nor the acumen to sort out the financial tangle. The situation is beyond their control and the Countess believes it could be sorted out if Nikolai marries an heiress. When Nikolai declines to share her view and declares his intention to marry Sonya in the future, the Countess loses hope and falls ill. The Count plans a trip to Moscow to sell his house and estate in that city to secure money to keep up their position in life. Part IV of Book II, thus, relates the saddened state of affairs of the Rostovs.
Tolstoy delights in presenting contrasting situations in the lives of two people who are close to each other, to highlight the irony of life. In the last Part of Book II, he portrayed the transformation in the life of two friends, Andrei and Pierre. Andrei experiences happiness after undergoing suffering, while Pierre undergoes the agony of rejection after a temporary period of harmony. In this part, Natasha goes through the pangs of separation, while Sonya experiences the bliss of reunion with her lover. Andreiís absence tortures Natasha and gloomy thoughts crowd her mind. Even the letters written by Andrei fails to lift her morale. On the other hand, Sonya is ecstatic when she gets back the love of Nikolai and is hopeful of binding her relationship with him in the future.
To lighten the atmosphere of gloom, Tolstoy inserts scenes of mirth and excitement in this section of the novel. Thus, he paints a detailed picture of a hunting expedition and also the game of mummery to create thrill. The hunting expedition begins with fanfare and leads to mounting tension and satisfaction. The persistent chase of the riders with the hounds and the stealthy capture of the prey is recreated with stunning details of the hunt and minute description of the event. The readers are bound share the experience of the keen hunters. The game of mummery and the act of disguise bring cheer to the members of the Rostov family, as much as it contributes to brighten the darkened atmosphere of this portion of the novel. The characters come alive as they choose to wear different masks and disguise themselves in order to play the game of guessing. Natasha forgets her sorrow and joins the others in having fun. Nikolai gets excited chasing Sonya and in the process, discovers his lost love for Sonya. These games of escape provide a welcome relief to the characters, as much as it does to the readers.