War and Peace: Novel Summary: Book Eleven

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Book Eleven

Book Eleven begins with an abstract view of history and a discussion of how the focus on 'small units for observation' brings the reader closer to a truer account of the historical processes and the 'laws of history'.
We are told that the French army stay in Moscow for five weeks and this force is compared to an injured animal after the Battle of Borodino. The abandonment of Moscow is described in a little more detail and Count Rostopchin's 'contrary measures' are criticized. Furthermore, he insists that Pierre leaves Moscow.
In Chapter XIII, the Rostovs decide to leave Moscow on 31st August, but, prior to this, wounded Russian soldiers are invited into their house. It has been rumoured (again) that Prince Andrei is dead; however, Sonya discovers him among the injured men. As they leave the city Natasha notices Pierre in the street. He is acting strangely and is dressed as a coachman.
As Napoleon gazes on Moscow in Chapter XIX his men have to tell him that it has been abandoned. Moscow is compared to a beehive without a queen. Looting is common and an examination is made of those left behind in the city. Rostopchin is heavily criticized once more as he uses a scapegoat, Vereshchagin, to deflect the anger of the crowd.
In Chapter XXVI, the men in the French army are described as 'marauders' when they leave weeks later: 'The aim of each of these men when he left Moscow was not, as it had been, to conquer but simply to keep the booty he had acquired.' This point is used as one of the explanations for the defeat of the French. The burning of Moscow is then discussed and no one group is blamed for it specifically. This novel posits instead that the circumstances of it being constructed largely with wood and the presence of a foreign army are sufficient reasons for it to have been destroyed.
Pierre decides to kill Napoleon, and references are made once again to the Book of Revelations of the New Testament. This is followed by a comic interlude in Chapter XXVIII as he saves the life of a French captain. They then talk together about love and Pierre recalls Natasha. He feels joyous as he looks up to the blazing sky.
The narrative returns to the Rostovs in Chapter XXX and to the meeting of Prince Andrei and Natasha. She nurses him from this instant until his death. There is another shift back to Pierre in Chapter XXXIII as he takes a dagger to kill Napoleon. He comes across a fire and a woman screaming for her baby. The girl is safe, but Pierre becomes embroiled in a fight with a French soldier who has been trying to steal from a woman and an old man. Pierre is arrested for this.
The micro level of examination of the impact of historical events on fictional characters is justified in the beginning of this Book as the discussion hinges on the 'small units of observation'. By focussing on the catastrophic effects of war on the individual level, it is argued, a more rounded historical view is put into place.
The focus on Pierre in this section is of particular interest for this thesis as he is known to the reader as honorable and na�ve. His arrest at the end of this section helps to highlight the injustices of not only war, but also human relationships that are invested unfairly with different levels of power. The abuse of power is exemplified even more clearly in Rostopchin's use of a man as a scapegoat for his own errors.
In terms of the romantic aspect of the novel, the reunion between Natasha and Prince Andrei is brought about at this point. Realism is discarded in favor of romance at this juncture as the coincidence of their meeting once more, in this time and place of confusion, is overlooked in order to fulfil the requirements of an unrequited love story.

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