Okay, I’m officially a day behind, and this is Thursday’s chapter. You’ll have to bear with me while I catch up over the next couple of days.
Have you ever been in the situation in this chapter? You’re absolutely devastated by something, but somehow the rest of the world goes on around you regardless? Nikolai comes how, contemplating suicide, devastated by what he’s done to his family, but no one else knows or has any idea.
What’s interesting is that the little details of life in the Rostov house at the beginning of the chapter are all kind of peripheral. Yes, Natasha and Sonya are singing, but we’re barely paying attention.
So the details that Denisov is head over heels in love with Natasha, and she’s flattered by the attention, are there, but kind of peripheral. [As a side note, obviously Natasha meant what she said back at the beginning of the book when she said that she didn’t care about Boris any more, because he doesn’t seem to have made an appearance at all . . . Oh well. How many of you keep in contact with that crush you had when you were 12?]
Then, as Natasha sings, Tolstoy swings the camera back off Nikolai for a bit, and we realise that Natasha, far from being the little girl that she was introduced to us as, may actually be growing up. Thus, in this simple act of detailing the maturing of Natasha’s singing voice, Tolstoy sets up the much larger and more grown-up part that Natasha is to have in this novel from here on in.
She has stepped out of the sidelines of being a supporting actress and is heading for the limelight . . .
Of course, in the meantime, Nikolai while being blinded by the beauty of the singing is still delaying the moment when he has to have a chat with his Dad . . . Hasn’t this been a great Part 4? One more chapter to go.