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War and Peace: Novel Summary: Book Fifteen

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Book Fifteen

Summary
This final Book of the main novel offers a movement towards closure. The news of Petya's death reaches the Rostovs and Princess Maria and Natasha have formed bonds since they both nursed Prince Andrei until his death. They decide to go to Moscow at the end of January.
Chapter IV examines the principal reasons behind the reduction of Napoleon's army and it is surmised that it is the 'swiftness of its flight' that has brought this about. It is argued that this is proven by the 'corresponding dwindling of the Russian army'. The severe conditions affected both sides.
A defence of Kutuzov is made in Chapter V and this case is argued in relation to how Napoleon has continued to be (falsely) revered whilst Kutuzov has been overlooked by historians. After receiving the order of St George of the first class, Kutuzov dies.
Chapter XII describes Pierre in his convalescence, and it is made evident that he is no longer inclined to search and constantly ask the question why. He has also become better at judging who to give money to and is now able to refuse some requests. Many Russians are beginning to return to Moscow now and on visiting Princess Maria and Natasha he does not initially recognize Natasha. He then proceeds to tell them of his adventures. It is clear to Princess Maria that Natasha will come to love him and this proves to be the case. Natasha, like Pierre, reawakens to life.
Analysis
This final main Book is hopeful in its examination of Pierre as his imprisonment has clearly altered his perspective and beliefs for the better. That is, his naivety is now eroded and he is no longer driven to search for answers as though the abyss has been filled. The experience and privations of war have taught him to appreciate the meaning of freedom. In terms of the plot, his meeting with Natasha is also a form of expressing optimistic hope (as defined in the romantic sense) as it is strongly suggested that these two central characters will be united finally.
On the broader canvas, the comparison between Kutuzov and Napoleon, and their historical representations, is also a means of re-dressing the balance. The undermining of Napoleon's (undeserved) 'great' reputation has been a concern through the majority of this novel, and this final Book reiterates this argument.




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