Of course, we should have known from the fairyland chapter – but in intimate detail, Tolstoy takes us through Petya’s last charge – his thoughts, his actions – until it’s all over.
The odd thing with all of this, is that this is what the last few chapters have been building to. There was almost no need to introduce Petya in the last few chapters, and not even a particularly good reason to kill him off. But there it is – and even as the tide turns, this war still continues to claim victims.
The difference between Dolohov and Denisov is highlighted as well in their reaction – one cold and matter of fact; the other absolutely devastated.
But, finally, the most unusual twist is the last sentence – all of this led to Pierre’s freedom . . .