Reading for Wednesday, 14 January

One of the questions that readers of War and Peace may have had is what Marya would be like if her father wasn’t around.  In this chapter, we find out.

While she’s clearly grief-stricken, it only takes the threat of French occupation and she’s all action – getting ready to move out and feeding the peasants.

It’s funny, actually, because her strong anti-French position could be taken, not just as a general Russian feeling of not wanting to be conquered, but also a last instance of the personal grude against Madame Bourienne.  Either way, we feel that Marya, while she may have some strange ideas, is only just starting to live for the first time.

2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 10.10 – Regaining Strength

  1. Yes, Marya’s very unique character – with her strange mixture of strength and meekness, of passivity and determination – comes across brilliantly in this chapter: as does the complex relationship with the peasantry, which we really saw for the first time in the previous chapter. I guess that complexity is seen most of all in the character of Dron – torn, it seems, between loyalty to two classes or, more to the point, subservience to one clas and solidarity with another. It shows a complexity and a history that someone of Marya’s simple piety will probably never really grasp. She just wants to help the peasants, relieve their hunger, and care for them in the way that she would care for anyone else. But it’s just not that simple and I, for one, felt the power of its complexity, its ambiguity, most strongly of all in Dron’s plea – first to Alpatych in the previous chapter, and now to Marya – to be set free. I think, especially at the time Tolstoy was writing, this whole question of the emancipation o the peasants, was a massive one for Russia and here, as always, Tolstoy shows us that these big political issues are made up of very human stories.

  2. I was really pleased to see Marya stand strong on this one . . . she did what her father would have done, and her brother, of course! She spat in the face of the idea of letting the French protect her and her own!

    Good for her!

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