The first chapter of this Book offers a detailed debate of how individual actions combine in the origins of a war. It is also argued that the higher a man is in the hierarchy the less free he is. The retreat of the Russians is discussed as a reason for the defeat of Napoleon's army.
At Bald Hills, in Chapter III, it is becoming obvious that the Bolkonsky family must leave as the French are approaching. The destruction of Smolensk is also described. In Petersburg (in Chapter VI), however, the salons continue to be attended. Those who attend Anna Pavlovna's parties espouse patriotic beliefs, whereas H'l'ne's is a French-dominated circle. Humour is used here as Prince Vasili momentarily forgets which ideology he should be citing.
In Chapter VII, the narrative compares war to a game of chess. War is deemed far more complex as it is brought about by 'something resulting from the innumerable collisions of diverse wills!' rather than 'one will manipulating inanimate objects'.
Returning to the Bolkonsky family, who are now in Bogucharovo, the old Prince dies and his daughter, Princess Maria is having difficulties making a departure from the advancing French. The peasants will not give her their carts and she cannot understand why; they believe that coming with her will be following her into slavery. The fortuitous arrival of Rostov means that Princess Maria is now assisted in leaving. Further to this, she thinks she has fallen in love with him.
In Chapter XVIII, Pierre is pleased that the catastrophe he has expected is now imminent. This is also a reference to his notion that Napoleon represents the sign of the beast as mentioned in Revelations. After he sees French men being tortured, he decides to leave Moscow for the army. The joy of sacrifice is one of his motivations.
An examination follows of the mistakes made at the Battle of Borodino. Through Pierre, the reader also glimpses the wounded. In Chapter XXV, Prince Andrei argues that prisoners should not be taken as this amounts to playing at war. If there was less magnanimity, he believes, there would be less conflict: 'War is not a polite recreation but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war.'
References to Napoleon in Chapter XXVIII emphasize how he only appears to be in control. A description of the Battle of Borodino then continues as Pierre finds himself inadvertently on the front line and is wearing a ridiculous white hat. Prince Andrei is injured and he finds himself in a makeshift hospital two tables away from his enemy Anatole in Chapter XXXVII. Anatole is crying with pain and regret as his leg is to be amputated. Prince Andrei cries tears of compassion for him. This Book ends with an explanation of how Napoleon's army will reach Moscow and then retreat.
This Book is careful to emphasize how war does not depend on the will of just one man (such as Napoleon). The narrative stresses instead how 'diverse wills' combine to affect the outcome of war. The descriptions of the Battle of Borodino are used to exemplify this point as the men in battle follow the orders of their officers rather than the supreme head of the army. The situation is more confused and contrary than a simplistic historical account would have the readers believe. Chaos and chance are portrayed as deeply influential on the outcome of a war.
On the smaller scale, Princess Maria and Rostov meet for the first time and Rostov is characterized as a knight saving the damsel in distress. This is a significant introduction to their later relationship. With regards to Prince Andrei, his tears of compassion for Anatole may be interpreted as representing the Christian faith in forgiveness. The impact of war, which sharpens the understanding of mortality, is also described as unforgivably wasteful.
War and Peace: Novel Summary: Book Ten