The contrast in this chapter (at least the way I read it) is just between the ordinary soldiers, who are happily thinking about cooking food and staying warm, and the commanders, sitting around sipping tea and planning strategy.

Knowing Tolstoy’s philosophy as we do, it is of course the soldiers that are on the right track – they know the war is over, and so they can relax. Granted, I feel sorry for the guy who owned the barn that they dismantled, but this is real life, after all.

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 15.7 – Knowing It’s Almost Over

  1. There was a kind of domesticity, even humour, to this chapter which I really liked and, in some ways, reminded me of a scene way back during the Battle of Austerlitz (I think) where we got all these little snippets of conversations, banal and trivial, between the soldiers as they crossed a bridge. This scene, of course, is quite different to that but, for me at least, it worked in a similar way – helping us to get into the real mood and ambience of a scene by showing to us the little bits and pieces of ordinary, unremarkable, life that go to make it up. The difference now, of course, is that everyone is exhausted, emaciated, dying – and yet still there is that spark of life and humour constantly igniting and re-iginiting amongst them. The war might be over – and, with it, many lives lost or ruined – and yet little scenes like this remind us that life will still find a way of going on.

  2. Yeah – that’s the scene I was talking about – remember the family going over the bridge – the man with his wife and daughter, with a baby in her arms – the Russian soldiers were all talking about the women as if they were common property.

    That’s what makes me think we needn’t be surprised to find out they actually swear, using the equivalent of our four letter words.

    As for the men being tired and wanting to eat – that’s something that put me off – that sometimes there was no food provided for them. Surely they’ve got to be fed.

    But that was war then, I guess – who are we to say? I guess the civil war in the states was more or less the same way.

    It’s too bad they had to forage and destroy people’s homes though.

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