This is another one of Tolstoy’s chaotic crowd scenes. All the nobility have gathered to hear what the Tsar expects them to do. From what I gather, the Tsar vaguely requests that he expects the nobility to help them.
The rest of the chapter revolves around what that help might involve. Does it involve just sending off the serfs to go fighting? Does it involve conscription of the best and brightest?
What’s most amazing about this chapter is that, for once, Pierre gets his finger right on the pulse of the problem. (Actually, that’s a bit unfair. Pierre usually has his finger on the pulse of the problems in life. It’s the answers he’s never been able to find.)
He simply asks the questions, “Wouldn’t it be best to find out what the actual state of the campaign in Russia is before we go throwing in money and men to the war effort?”
This question gets shouted down in a roar of chaotic patriotism that means nothing and will achieve nothing and thus ends the chapter.
All of which is building back towards Tolstoy’s theory that there were no grand planners during the war. Things just happened the way they happened.