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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Leo Tolstoy always believed that events overpower men and human beings were tools in the hands of destiny. In this part of the book, he emphasizes his view in the opening chapter. As he dwells into the cause of the Russian attack and the French retreat, he surmises that it is not one action but many put together that led to the defeat of Napoleon.

In the rest of Part II, Tolstoy tries to analyze the attitude and reaction of the characters to the situation. He brings alive the scenes of action through accurate description and apt similes. The readers are made aware of Napoleonís strategies and his failure to execute them. They are made to empathize with the Tsar as he makes an impassive plea to save his country. They also get to understand Dokhturovís zest and Kutuzovís reservation for action through vivid detail.

The Russians are at last given the chance to display their strength and enthusiasm. They pounce upon their enemy like hungry beasts and attack them mercilessly. The French soldiers are terrified and demoralized. They make desperate attempts to escape. Tolstoy portrays beautifully the attitude of the French army as they retreat from Moscow. Thus describes the master craftsman: "The plight of the army resembled that of a wounded beast which feels that its death is imminent and does not know what it is doing. --- the rustle of the battle of Tarutino alarmed the beast and it rushed toward the shot, reached the huntsman, turned back, ran forwards and back again, and finally, like any wild creature, fled along the most inexpedient and perilous track, but where the old scent was familiar." Again, in the last chapter of Part II, Tolstoy exposes the wounded sentiments of the French soldiers as they march out of Moscow towards Smolensk. "When they came out into the highway, the French fled with surprising energy and unheard-of speed toward the goal they had fixed on. - -- As with the law of gravity, their enormous mass attracted the discrete atoms to itself. In their hundreds of thousands they moved like a whole nation."


Pierre turns more philosophical after living under miserable conditions in the prison houses. Weathering the harsh weather and eating little food, Pierre realizes the worth of comfort and luxury that he had enjoyed before. Suffering makes him understand the value of life and freedom. He longs to escape into the open and enjoy the essence of life. Gripped with a strange enthusiasm, Pierre feels exulted as other prisoners, brood over their plight. He discovers god within him and tries to establish a rapport with the nature around him.

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