Literature Study GuidesWar And PeaceVol 4 Part 4 Chapters 1 3 Summary

War and Peace | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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War and Peace | Vol. 4, Part 4, Chapters 1–3 | Summary

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Summary

In Chapter 1, Natasha and Marya mourn Prince Andrei. They speak little but keep each other company, and they never speak of the future, which seems like "an offense to his memory." In Chapter 2 the family gets word of Petya's death, and the countess falls apart. The only one who can comfort her is Natasha. In Chapter 3 Princess Marya postpones leaving. Natasha is constantly at her mother's side, makes her eat and drink, and talks to her to keep her from going mad. Marya and Natasha's friendship blossoms, and they become best friends, although their natures are very different. At the end of January 1813, Marya and Natasha leave for Moscow.

Analysis

As is common with people who suffer a great grief, Natasha and Marya cannot tolerate anyone not in their circle of sorrow. Natasha is forced out of her isolation, however, by Petya's death. One sorrow is temporarily displaced by two others—the death of her brother and collapse of the countess. Natasha's vitality is what saves her mother: "Natasha's love, persistent, patient, not as an explanation, not as a consolation, but as a summons to life, enveloped the countess on all sides every second." In this passage Natasha is the life force itself, calling her mother back as well as calling back her own self. When her mother's crisis passes, the narrator says, "under the seemingly impenetrable layer of silt that covered her soul, thin, tender young needles of grass were already breaking through," because Natasha's life force cannot be suppressed indefinitely.

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