Reading for Wednesday, 1 April

I always think the strength of good characters, whether it be in novels or in TV shows, is that they can appear for a short period of time and they act exactly as you would expect them to act.

You get that with the Rostov family here as Marya arrives to visit Andrei. Each of them just gets a little cameo moment in this chapter, but everyone, from the Count to Sonya acts exactly as we would expect. The Count, bewildered. The Countess, delighted to see the heiress. Sonya, deadly jealous. And Natasha, sharing the sister’s grief.

Of course, we would normally be tempted to read these pretty fast because, like Marya, we’re all desperate to see what happens to Andrei . . .


2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 12.14 – Family Reunion

  1. I guess you’re right, Matt – a well drawn character will always behave in a way that seems to “fit”. But then, I guess, the same can often apply when characters are shallow and two-dimensional. But in that case, I think, they act how we expect them to act, not because they are well crafted by the author, but becase they are simply predictable – whereas a great author, like Tolstoy, creates complex characters, who often develop and change and move in new irections, and yet it still continues to “fit”, so we can be surprised and yet not surprised at the same time.

    I feel, by this stage of the story, all of the characters who appear in this chapter have been along their own different paths and pretty well all of them have changed and developed from when we first met them. And now, as they deal with Andrei’s grave illness, and with each other, we see all their little nuances come to the fore – but always, as you point out Matt, in ways that seem to be what we would expect of them … not because they are two-dimensional, “predictable”, characters, but because, despite all their complexity, depth and unpredictability, Tolstoy has made us feel that we know them so well.

  2. Well, actually Marya arrived to visit Nicholas – not Andrei . . . I thin that’s what Matt meant.

    The characters have changed a bit though. They’ve gotten a little older, for one thing.

    So far, it’s Marya who has made the most marked change.

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