Another brief vignette, but very cleverly done. It starts quite humourously, as Denisov questions Tihon about what he’s been up to. It brings out all the larrikinism in Tihon (he could almost be Australian, really!) and also the sense of fun that the guerrillas were clearly having.

But, at the same time, as Petya realises that Tihon has killed a man – Tolstoy briefly notes his pangs of conscience. And they are ours and Tolstoy’s pangs of conscience. Despite the laughs and jokes – war is not a fun affair, no matter how it’s fought.

If we’ve learned nothing else from War and Peace it’s that everyone is a human being. That little bit of news kind of leaves a dark edge hanging over the edge of this story and takes away from the fun of the opening of the chapter – as it should.

One thought on “One-Year War and Peace 14.6 – Tihon in Action

  1. This chapter had exactly the same effect on me – I was drawn into the humour of it all, along with everyone else, until I realised, through Petya, what Tikhon had actually done. And it seemed to me to be at once immensely ironic and yet utterly right that it was Petya who noticed this – Petya, the young-boy-who-would-be-a-soldier, shaken for a moment by the horror of it all, but then just as quickly throwing the horror off and becoming the soldier he believes he is meant to be. So much about the impact of war seemed to me to be captured in those few lines about Petya’s reactions to Tikhon and his story.

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