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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Part III

Summary

Napoleon retreats only to advance. After being in hiding for some time, he orders his troops to march towards Moscow. This sudden move by the French takes the Russians by surprise and they feel as helpless as the French were at Borodino. Kutuzov finds himself in an awkward situation. When he becomes aware of the inferior position of the French army, he orders them to retreat. He also asks the residents of Moscow to abandon the city and seek shelter elsewhere.

The high society of Petersburg is unaware of the political turmoil in the country. They continue the pursuit of normal routine and pastimes. Ellen returns back from Vilna to Petersburg but with a new problem. At Vilna, she had got attached to a young Prince who suddenly arrives in Petersburg. Earlier in Petersburg, she had encouraged a grandee holding a high position. Ellen finds herself in an awkward position, when she has to entertain both men and keep them happy. To escape out of this situation, she asks each of them to marry her. This puts them in a dilemma. On her part, she writes to Pierre asking for a divorce. She also woos the clergy to accept her divorce from Pierre and allow her to marry one of her suitors. Pierre receives the letter on his return from the battlefield. Having heard rumors about Ellenís flirtations and reading her letter for a divorce, he reaches home in a disturbed state of mind. Suddenly, he decides against meeting Ellen, and runs away from the house.

He reaches Moscow and goes to live in the house of his benefactor, Alekseyevich. He is received well by the old, faithful, servant of his master. He makes himself comfortable in the house and spends his time reading and contemplating. He is overpowered by a desire to subdue Napoleon and save Moscow from his clutches. With this intention, he disguises in the clothes of a peasant and equips himself with a gun and dagger. However, before he can execute his plan, he is faced with a different problem at home. The senile brother of Alekseyevich gets hold of a gun and frightens everyone in the house. When a French officer enters the house, the old man turns his wrath on the officer and fires his gun at him. Pierre intercedes and saves the officer. The French commander is grateful to Pierre and offers him his meal. Intoxicated by drinks, Pierre confides his problems to the French man. Later, he regrets his action and prepares himself to undertake his mission of confronting Napoleon.


In the meantime, the Rostovs start preparing to leave Moscow. On the appointed day, not only do they travel but also transport many wounded soldiers with them. One of the wounded soldiers travelling with them is Andrei. Only the Countess and Sonya are aware of this fact. After they reach Mytishchy, near Moscow, Sonya tells Natasha about Andrei. Natasha is disturbed to hear the news and at the earliest opportunity, goes to meet Andrei in his quarters. Natasha apologizes for her mistake. Andrei forgives her and expresses his love for her. During the rest of their journey, Natasha attends to Andrei.

The Russians capture Moscow. The French soldiers plunder the city and misbehave with the inhabitants. In a fit of frenzy, they also destroy buildings. They move into vacant houses and make use of whatever is available in them. One such day, Pierre walks out into the street with his mind set on attacking Napoleon. Suddenly, a grief-stricken woman encounters him and requests him to save her child from a burning house. Pierre gets into action. Risking his life, he runs towards the burning house and rescues the child from the garden. Later, he rushes forwards to save the honor of a young woman who is being harassed by a lecherous soldier. Pierre is happy with his work but he doesnít receive an award for it. Instead, the enemy soldiers take him as a prisoner.

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