Literature Study GuidesWar And PeaceVol 2 Part 1 Chapters 7 10 Summary

War and Peace | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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War and Peace | Vol. 2, Part 1, Chapters 7–10 | Summary

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Summary

In Chapter 7 the Bolkonskys at Bald Hills are mourning Andrei. He is missing in action, and everyone assumes he is dead. However no one has told "the little princess" because she is close to the end of her pregnancy. In Chapters 8–9 Andrei's wife goes into labor, and he unexpectedly arrives home on the night she gives birth. He addresses her with new tenderness, but she dies tragically after delivering the infant. Prince Nikolai greets his son and cries like a child as he embraces him. The family buries the little princess and baptizes the baby, named Nikolai after his grandfather and father.

Analysis

The little princess is not malicious and behaves sweetly to the people around her. She is somewhat shallow and simple, when compared to Prince Andrei, living on the surface of life. Lise is not used to hardship, and soon after marriage she is foisted on in-laws she hardly knows by her disdainful husband and then goes through labor in his absence. Childbirth is too much for her, and she becomes a victim of forces beyond her control. When Andrei sees her shortly before she dies, she appears to accuse him with her eyes and ask, "why am I suffering?" It was not uncommon for 19th-century women to die during labor, given the primitive state of medicine, and Lise ends up an unfortunate casualty.

When Andrei arrives and addresses his wife in the throes of labor, he clearly has a different attitude toward her than when he left for war. He feels tender and solicitous, and he is ready to take up his responsibilities as a husband to the woman he has freely chosen. When she dies he feels "something snapped in his soul, that he was to blame for something he could neither set aright nor forget." When Andrei's father comes to greet him, he cries because the beloved son whom he thought was lost on the battlefield has miraculously appeared, and because he understands the dimensions of his son's grief—his wife is dead, and he now has no chance to make it right with her. The heartrending scene between father and son testifies to the fierce love the Bolkonskys have for one another, even if they have difficulty expressing their feelings under most circumstances.

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