War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace Courage Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Volume.Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation.
Formerly, when going into action, Rostov had felt afraid; now he had not the least feeling of fear. He was fearless, not because he had grown used to being under fire (one cannot grow used to danger), but because he had learned how to manage his thoughts when in danger. He had grown accustomed when going into action to think about anything but what would seem most likely to interest him – the impending danger. During the first period of his service, hard as he tried and much as he reproached himself with cowardice, he had not been able to do this, but with time it had come of itself. (126.96.36.199)
Here is another dissociated moment. The point here might be that it would be impossible to be courageous in battle (to kill and risk death for no personal reason) without thinking as little as possible about what's happening.
Two little girls, running out from the hot house carrying in their skirts plums they had plucked from the trees there, came upon Andrei. On seeing the young master, the elder one with frightened look clutched her younger companion by the hand and hid with her behind a birch tree, not stopping to pick up some green plums they had dropped.
Andrei turned away with startled haste, unwilling to let them see that they had been observed. He was sorry for the pretty frightened little girl, was afraid of looking at her, and yet felt an irresistible desire to do so. A new sensation of comfort and relief came over him when, seeing these girls, he realized the existence of other human interests entirely aloof from his own and just as legitimate as those that occupied him. Evidently these girls passionately desired one thing – to carry away and eat those green plums without being caught. (188.8.131.52-22)
What a great moment of childhood courage! Can't you just feel the girls' excitement over getting away with something? Also, this whole thing of watching young girls and trying to feel what they're feeling rather than his own been-there-done-that attitude is getting to a be a habit for Andrei, no? Compare this scene to that time he finds Natasha running around in the woods.
"Oh, she nearly knocked our gentleman's hat off!" cried the redfaced humorist, showing his teeth chaffing Pierre. "Awkward baggage!" he added reproachfully to a cannon ball that struck a cannon wheel and a man's leg.
"Now then, you foxes!" said another, laughing at some militiamen who, stooping low, entered the battery to carry away the wounded man.
"So this gruel isn't to your taste? Oh, you crows! You're scared!" they shouted at the militiamen who stood hesitating before the man whose leg had been torn off.
"There, lads . . . oh, oh!" they mimicked the peasants, "they don't like it at all!"
Pierre noticed that after every ball that hit the redoubt, and after every loss, the liveliness increased more and more.
As the flames of the fire hidden within come more and more vividly and rapidly from an approaching thundercloud, so, as if in opposition to what was taking place, the lightning of hidden fire growing more and more intense glowed in the faces of these men. (184.108.40.206-66)
This is the moment we said should be compared to the one from the third quotation, above. In that one, Tushin is so detached from the moment that he's pretty much hallucinating. But here the men are getting through their horrible ordeal by joking around, mocking the war and each other. Is one coping mechanism better than another? Is the difference simply between the way an individual and a group react to the pressure of war?