War and Peace
War and Peace Home Quotes
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The domestics and servants standing behind each chair; the butler, a napkin over his arm, examined the place settings, winking to the lackeys and constantly shifting his anxious gaze from the wall clock to the door from which [Prince Bolkonsky] was to appear. Prince Andrei was looking at a huge gilded frame, new to him, with a picture of the family tree of the princes Bolkonsky, which hung across the room from an equally huge frame with a poorly painted portrait (obviously from the hand of a household artist) of a sovereign prince in a crown, who was supposed to be a descendant of Rurik and the first ancestor of the Bolkonsky family. Prince Andrei looked at this genealogical tree, shaking his head and chuckling with the air of someone looking at a portrait that is a ridiculously good likeness."That's him all over!" he said to Prince Marya, who came up to him.Princess Marya looked at her brother in surprise. She did not understand what made him smile. Everything her father did evoked an awe in her which was not subject to discussion. (188.8.131.52-4)
What do we learn about the Bolkonsky family from the description of their dining room? From the behavior of the servants? From the way Marya and Andrei react to the portrait of their ancestor?
[Nikolai] became oblivious for a moment, but in that brief interval of oblivion he saw a numberless multitude of things in a dream: he saw his mother and her large white hand, saw Sonya's thin little shoulders, Natasha's eyes and laughter, and Denisov with his voice and mustache, and Telyanin, and his whole story with Telyanin and Bogdanych. That whole story was the same as this soldier with the sharp voice, and that whole story and this soldier were what held, crushed, and pulled his arm to one side so painfully and relentlessly. He tried to get away from them, but they would not let go of his shoulder for a moment, for a split second. It would not hurt, it would be well, if they were not pulling on it; but there was no getting rid of them. [...] "Nobody needs me!" thought Rostov. "There's nobody to help me or pity me. And once I was at home, strong, cheerful, loved." He sighed and involuntarily groaned as he sighed. (1.2.65-67)
Tolstoy is always really good at dream logic – check out the irrational dream that a "story" is what's pulling Nikolai's arm. This is one of the many times in the book when a hurt man immediately flashes back to his home, wanting his mother or some other nurturing figure.
In general, the little princess [Liza] lived at Bald Hills under a constant feeling of fear and antipathy for the old prince [Bolkonsky], though she was not aware of the antipathy, because the fear was so predominant that she could not feel it. On the prince's side there was also antipathy, but it was smothered by contempt. The princess, having made herself at home at Bald Hills, had especially grown to love Mlle. Bourienne, spent whole days with her, invited her to sleep in her room, and often talked with her about her father-in-law, criticizing him. (184.108.40.206)
You know who is a delightful human being? Not Prince Bolkonsky. He makes home a rough place for everyone in his family.