So now we’re flashing back to what Pierre has been up to. I found this chapter rather difficult to read. It could have been because it’s been a long and slightly chaotic day at work. I’m not sure.

But either way, the hardships described and the conditions of the prisoners are horrendous. And also Pierre is responding by retreating into an introverted fantasy-world. The little man who so inspired him last time we read about him is now sick and dying, and so Pierre simply responds by not thinking about him or visiting him.

This is not the Pierre we normally know.

And yet, he tells himself that this is because the trick is to focus on the good things in life and be content.

But I think it’s clear this is not absolute contentment. While that is a good ideal, there is a certain amount of blind optimism here that can’t cope with the reality of what’s going on.

And who could? Wouldn’t any of us in a situation like that just want to curl up in a ball and hope the world would disappear?


One thought on “One-Year War and Peace 14.12 – Misery and Happiness

  1. I didn’t read this chapter in quite the same way that you did, Matt – I didn’t see Pierre so much as abandoning the sick and dying Karataev, but rather that the scene was kind of a vehicle for telling us how happiness and suffering are all constant companions in life, with us all the time, in many different forms and guises, and that Karataev’s life is now coming to an end – not in a tragic, morbid way, but as part of the natural arc of life. So I didn’t feel so much that Pierre was closing his eyes to suffering, but rather just taking it in his stride, as part of the journey that he, like all of us, have always been on.

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