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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Part IV

Summary

After the death of Prince Andrei, both Princess Marya and Natasha brood in silence and avoid company. The shadow of death haunts them and they are unable to emerge out of it. They feel uncomfortable in the presence of others and when together, avoid talking about Andrei. Memories torture them. Natasha goes through a phase of depression and keeps to herself. Marya is made to face life, as she has to attend to Nikolushka and her financial matters. She also plans to leave for Moscow, since her house in that city is ready for occupation now.

News arrives about the death of Petya. The Rostov household is too shocked to believe it. The Countess is inconsolable. Marya postpones her visit to Moscow and Natasha comes out of her shell. Natasha forgets her own grief to offer solace to her mother. Slowly and steadily, the Countess comes to grips with her situation. Marya bids goodbye to the Rostovs and takes Natasha with her to Moscow.

In the battlefront, the Russian soldiers pursue their enemy till Berezina, in spite of opposition from Kutuzov. Doggedly, they pursue their enemy and drive them out. In the process, not only do they kill their enemy but also get killed. When Kutuzov tries to stop them, they criticize him. Kutuzov is unaffected by criticism; he only asks the high command to replace Bennigsen, as he is unable to tolerate the latter’s rash actions.

In the last days of the battle, the Russian army makes merry and mixes with the enemy prisoners as friends. Those who have survived the war, feel proud of their contribution. Pierre retreats back from Smolensk to Moscow but on the way, falls ill at Orel and is hospitalized. Princess Katerina comes to Orel along with her servants to attend on him. She notices the pleasant change in Pierre’s personality and feels happy about it.

On reaching Moscow, Pierre clears his debts created by Ellen and rebuilds his house. He pays a visit to Princes Marya and is delighted to meet Natasha. He experiences the same feeling for Natasha that he had felt earlier and feels happy about it. Natasha also opens up in front of Pierre and feels relieved. She realizes that she loves Pierre. Thus, when he proposes to her, she is too happy to accept him.


Notes

In this last part of Book IV, Tolstoy talks about Greatness and the failure of people to recognize it. Kutuzov is a true patriot and an astute General. He loves his country and tries to avoid the slaughter of his soldiers in the battle. He realizes the futility of chasing a running army. Thus, he tries to avoid the Russian attack on French as the latter march towards Smolensk. However, the Generals and soldiers fail to appreciate his attitude and blame him for the lapses on the Russian side. Even the Tsar is of the view that he lacks initiative and drive. Thus, Kutuzov receives the order of St. George but his powers are reduced.

Love kindles in the heart of the protagonists of the novel. Natasha who had lost interest in life after the death of Andrei, feels the power of love within her. After Petya’s demise, when the Countess is inconsolable, Natasha is drawn towards her. She feels the need to share her mother’s grief because it reminds her of her own. In has a cathartic effect on her. Understanding the pain of losing the loved one, makes Natasha love her mother all the more. Later, talking to Pierre about Andrei unburdens her heart and relieves her of her sorrow. Suddenly, she finds love kindling in her heart. Sharing sorrow with Pierre, she experiences a strange feeling of love for him, as she becomes aware of the generosity of his heart.

Pierre is another character in the novel that experiences the pleasure of loving. After the harrowing experience of spending sleepless nights inside dirty prison houses, Pierre understands the value of life, love and freedom. He becomes more tolerant with others and bears no ill will against his antagonists. His cousin who meets him at the hospital is surprised to find him easy to talk to and please. Even Natasha finds him strangely attractive. Suffering has ennobled Pierre and he radiates a feeling of good. He is moved by Natasha’s plight. He desires to share his life with her and make her happy. Discovering his love for her, he also understands the joy of living.

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