| Quote #4
How strange, extraordinary, joyful it was that her son—that son who twenty years ago had moved his tiny limbs barely perceptibly inside her, that son over whom she had quarreled with the too indulgent count, that son who had first learned to say "brush," and then "mama," that this son was now there, in a foreign land, in foreign surroundings, a manly warrior, alone, with no help or guidance, and doing there some manly business of his own. All the worldwide, age-old experience showing that children grow in an imperceptible way from the cradle to manhood, did not exist for the countess. Her son's maturing had been at every point as extraordinary for her as if there had not been millions upon millions of men who had matured in just the same way. As it was hard to believe twenty years ago that the little being who lived somewhere under her heart would start crying, and suck her breast, and begin to talk, so now it was hard to believe that this same being could be the strong, brave man, an example to sons and people, that he was now, judging by this letter. (22.214.171.124)
OK, hang on a sec. Shmoop has something in its eye. Wow, that's just such a tender and beautiful description. It's also really great how the text points out that just because we know all kids grow up, that doesn't make watching our own kids growing up any less magical or special. It may be corny, but it's true.
| Quote #5
Natasha, taking her brother under the arm, led him to the sitting room, and started talking with him. They hastened to ask and answer each other about a thousand little things that could interest only them. [...] Rostov felt how his face and soul expanded under the influence of these hot rays of Natasha's love, for the first time in a year and a half, into that childish and pure smile which he had not once smiled since he left home. [...] Sitting in his former schoolroom, on the sofa with padded armrests, and looking into Natasha's desperately lively eyes, Rostov again entered that world of his family and childhood, which had no meaning for anyone but him, but which had provided him with one of the best enjoyments in life; (126.96.36.199-59)
How often do you get sibling relationships this complex yet loving, friendly, and normal in literature? This kind of relationship gives the reader something to compare other siblings to. Sure, Helene and Anatole are close too, but they're way, way too close. And Marya and Andrei clearly care about each other, but there's obviously something missing there.
| Quote #6
She and all the Rostov family welcomed him as an old friend, simply and cordially. The whole family, whom he had formerly judged severely, now seemed to him to consist of excellent, simple, and kindly people. The old count's hospitality and good nature, which struck one especially in Petersburg as a pleasant surprise, were such that Andrei could not refuse to stay to dinner. "Yes," he thought, "they are capital people, who of course have not the slightest idea what a treasure they possess in Natasha; but they are kindly folk and form the best possible setting for this strikingly poetic, charming girl, overflowing with life!" (188.8.131.52)
It's interesting how Andrei reacts to this warm family, considering he comes from such a cold and dysfunctional one. It feels telling that even though he registers that the Rostovs are "kindly," he views them as "simple." His big emotional hurdle to overcome is his tendency to look down on everyone.