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During the course of seven years, changes occur in the country and in the lives of the characters of the novel. Napoleon who had been at the helm of affairs in Western Europe is removed from power and sent on exile. Aleksandr I of Russia captures power and is recognized as a world leader. However, he relinquishes his powers and bestows authority of the state to a few power hungry politicians. In the process, Russia suffers a set back.
At home, Natasha and Pierre are leading a harmonious married life. Natasha is no more the youthful and exuberant teenager that she was. Now, she is a matronly housewife occupied with her household duties and the welfare of her children. She adores her children and is possessive about her husband. She poses a contrast to Ellen. Ellen had ignored her family responsibilities and concentrated on her social life to enhance her prestige in society.
Nikolai and Princess Marya are also married and leading a quiet family life. Nikolai shifts his duties from the battlefield to the farmlands. Just as he showed enthusiasm as a soldier, he puts in his whole energy in farming and proves himself to be an ideal farmer. He brings about reforms in the estate for the benefit of the peasants. Like Andrei had done in the past, he removes serfdom and employs serfs in productive work. As a husband he is proud of Marya and her accomplishments.
Nikolushka is now a boy of fifteen. He is sensitive and precocious. He remembers his father fondly and looks up to Pierre as his friend and guide. He is happy when Pierre reciprocates his feelings and shares his views with him. Pierre and Marya are the two people who understand his feelings and needs and hence, Nikolushka is attached to them. Nikolushka desires attention and company. In some ways, he can be compared to Sonya. Both these characters shower love on their guardians but expect very little.
Leo Tolstoy beautifully presents realistic family portraits by describing the activities and attitudes of the members of the family accurately. By relating the routine household affairs in detail and convincingly, he makes the readers visualize the scenes and empathize with the characters present in it.