HomeLiterature Study GuidesWar And PeaceVol 4 Part 4 Chapters 15 20 Summary

War and Peace | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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War and Peace | Vol. 4, Part 4, Chapters 15–20 | Summary

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Summary

At the end of January, Pierre comes to Moscow and settles in the part of his house that is not wrecked (Chapter 15). He soon pays a visit to Marya, whose house survived the war (Chapter 15). She is with a companion, whom he finally recognizes as Natasha. Pierre is excited to see her and loves her just as much as he ever did. Marya speaks at length about Andrei's last days, and then Natasha joins in (Chapter 16). The three of them have a late supper and talk well past midnight (Chapter 17). He tells them about Platon and what he learned from him, and he speaks at length about his captivity. After Pierre leaves, Natasha says, "He's become somehow clean, smooth, fresh—as if from the bathhouse, you understand?—morally from the bathhouse."

When Pierre gets home, he cannot stop thinking about Natasha (Chapter 18). He returns to Marya's house the next day and has a chance to speak to the princess alone and ask for her help. He tells her he has only ever loved Natasha and cannot imagine his life without her. As Pierre experiences a deepening of joy in love (Chapter 19), Natasha confesses to Marya that she also loves him (Chapter 20).

Analysis

Love brings about redemption in War and Peace; this theme is evident in the fate of Natasha and Pierre. Natasha is redeemed by the love of three characters: Pierre, Andrei, and finally Marya. First, when she is at her lowest after falling for Anatole, Pierre gives her confidence by letting her know that he loves her, no matter what she has done. Later, Andrei accepts her forgiveness and loves her unconditionally. Finally, Marya grows to love Natasha.

Natasha's wild impetuousness is refined in the crucible of love, and she begins to mature in her ability to develop long–standing relationships outside of her family circle. This suggests a fundamental change in her nature, and a replacement of her spontaneity with long-lasting, more firmly established ideas and feelings. When Pierre sees her again, he still loves her and she knows that immediately. At the same time she immediately recognizes his transformation, saying that he has somehow become "clean ... as if from the bathhouse."

Natasha has also undergone a transformation through suffering, so she is now on the same level of spiritual maturity as Pierre. Both women sense the change in him, which is why they can finally speak at length about Andrei's death. While Marya is taken aback by the feelings between Natasha and Pierre, she has the spiritual maturity to understand what it means. Love cannot be contained and is not subject to the rules of scarcity. That Natasha loves Pierre does not preclude her love for Andrei.

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