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.
The regimental commander, the moment he heard shooting and cries behind him, knew that something terrible had happened to his regiment, and the thought that he, an exemplary officer, with many years of service, to blame for nothing, might be blamed before his superiors for negligence or inefficiency, struck him so much that, at that same moment, forgetting both the disobedient cavalry colonel and his own dignity as a general, and above all totally forgetting danger and the sense of self-preservation, he gripped the pommel, spurred his horse, and galloped off to his regiment under a hail of bullets that poured down on but luckily missed him. He wanted one thing: to find out what was going on, and help to rectify at all costs any error, if there was one, on his part, so that he, an exemplary officer, with twenty-two years of service, and never reprimanded for anything, would not be blamed for it. (18.104.22.168)
This looks like courage on the outside, but the motivation comes from totally different emotions. Also, check out how the narrator doesn't tell us what to think about this guy for worrying about his rep. Is he selfish? Admirable? How do we form a moral judgment about someone when we don't have the narrator's help?
Dolokhov, who was running beside Timokhin, killed one Frenchman pointblank and was the first to take a surrendering officer by the collar. [...] [W]earing a greatcoat of bluish factory broadcloth, [Dolokhov] had no pack or shako, his head was bandaged, and there was a French ammunition pouch slung over his shoulder. In his hand he was holding an officer's sword. The soldier was pale, his blue eyes looked insolently into the regimental commander's face, and his mouth smiled. Though the regimental commander was busy giving orders to Major Ekonomov, he could not help paying attention to this soldier.
"Your Excellency, here are two trophies," said Dolokhov, pointing to the French sword and pouch. "I captured an officer. I stopped the company. "Dolokhov was breathing heavily from fatigue; he spoke with pauses. "The whole company can testify. I ask you to remember. Your Excellency!"
"Very well, very well," said the regimental commander, and he turned to Major Ekonomov.
But Dolokhov did not go away; he untied the handkerchief, pulled it off, and showed the clotted blood on his head. "A bayonet wound. I stayed at the front. Remember, Your Excellency.' (22.214.171.124-9)
So where does Dolokhov fall in the spectrum between bravery, foolhardiness, and barbarism? What are the moral issues behind the idea that someone who keeps being demoted for conduct unbecoming an officer suddenly gets his rank back for being the most bloodthirsty in battle?
Tushin did not experience the slightest unpleasant feeling of fear, and the thought that he could be killed or painfully wounded did not occur to him. On the contrary, he felt ever merrier and merrier. It seemed to him that the moment when he saw the enemy and fired the first shot was already very long ago, maybe even yesterday, and that the spot on the field where he stood was a long-familiar and dear place to him. Though he remembered everything, considered everything, did everything the best officer could do in his position, he was in a state similar to feverish delirium or to that of a drunken man.
From the deafening noise of his guns on all sides, from the whistling and thud of the enemy's shells, from the sight of the sweaty, flushed crews hustling about the guns, from the sight of the blood of men and horses, from the sight of the little puffs of smoke on the enemy's side (after each of which a cannonball came flying and hit the ground, a man, a cannon, or a horse)—owing to the sight of all these things, there was established in his head a fantastic world of his own, which made up his pleasure at that moment. In his imagination, the enemy's cannon were not cannon but pipes, from which an invisible smoker released an occasional puff of smoke. (126.96.36.199-18)
There are several moments like this in the book's battles where the soldiers can only be courageous by going into a fugue-like state, totally dissociated from what they're doing and what's going on around them. Compare this passage, for example, to what Pierre notices about the guys in the battery during the Battle of Borodino (quotation number six below).