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 . . .


3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 14.11 – A Final Charge

  1. From my last reading of W&P, I of course knew that Petya was to meet his death – but I don’t remember the incident affecting me as deeply then as it did now. Maybe it’s another by-product of this chapter a day approach, where we get to reflect upon and discuss everyone and everything in so much more detail, that, this time around, I felt such a special affection for Petya, to the point where he almost become for me my favourite Rostov. Most of all, it was his childlike dreamings of the fairy land in the last chapter, which made his sudden death in this chapter so devastating. And then the irony of Dolokhov’s nonchalant reaction – Dolokhov who Petya admired so much, and Denisov’s inconsolable sobbing. It’s all just so tragic – and this young, impetuous, over-zealous boy, playing at war as if he was playing an adventure game in his backyard, seems to capture, in just a few chapters, the essence of what is destroyed by war – life, innocence and vitality.

  2. I had to read Petya’s last couple of paragraphs twice because his death was so abrupt… it was quite a shock, after seeing how many chapters had been devoted to the final hours of other characters, to see a character so abruptly taken out of the novel!

    And I had a feeling when Dolohov came back that Pierre’s duel would come back to this interesting situation. Looking forward to seeing what happens.

  3. There was probably a few more chapters in Petya. But maybe it would have been too complicated to have him there.

    I think Tolstoy put him there, and killed him there, in order let us have that view of Dolokhov and Denisov. Dolokhov’s nonchalance and Denisov’s caring ways.

    Tolstoy could have just done the scene where the Rostov’s were informed of his death; we didn’t really ‘know’ the kid all that well, so we wouldn’t have missed it.

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