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The first chapter of Part III is an introduction to the whole section. Tolstoy analyses the situation and presents his view. Moscow burned because its houses were wooden and its inhabitants deserted it, tempting the invaders to destroy it. According to Tolstoy, not just the French, the Russians were equally responsible for the plundering of the city. Thus, not any one person or one cause was responsible for the fall of a beautiful city like Moscow, many people and different causes were responsible for the disaster.
Pierre is a true patriot. Unlike others, he remains in Moscow and plans to attack Napoleon when he enters it. He witnesses the damage caused to the city and the atrocities caused to its citizens. He feels disturbed and vows to take revenge on the perpetrator of such evil. However, he mission remains unfulfilled. As he walks into the street charting out his plan of action, a crying woman forces him to save her baby from a burning house. Pierreís chivalrous spirit gets aroused and performs dangerous feats to rescue the child. Later, he saves a Russian maiden from a French soldier who tries to molest her. Pierre does everything to save the citizens of his country.
In contrast, Ellen does everything to fulfill her selfish needs. She woos two men at the same time and plays with the sentiments of both of them. She forces them to marry her and decides to tie the knot with the one who would consent to her proposal. In the meantime, she writes to Pierre for giving her a divorce and also befriends the clergy to give her permission to remarry. She is least bothered about the feelings of Pierre. All she wants is a life of comfort and fun.
Leaders of a country treat people like puppets. Count Rostopchin punishes a suspected traitor and orders his execution. In his frustration, he vents out his anger on his followers. Similarly, Kutuzovís impulsive decision to abandon Moscow, cost the life of many men and causes damage to the property of many others. Napoleonís whim encourages his soldiers to loot the city and misbehave with its citizens. It is not god but leaders like Napoleon who are responsible for the misery of many innocent people.