War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace Men and Masculinity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Volume.Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation.
Pierre wished to be there with that smoke, those shining bayonets, that movement, and those sounds. He turned to look at Kutuzov and his suite, to compare his impressions with those of others. They were all looking at the field of battle as he was, and, as it seemed to him, with the same feelings. All their faces were now shining with that latent warmth of feeling Pierre had noticed the day before and had fully understood after his talk with Andrei. [...] The general mounted a horse a Cossack had brought him. Pierre went to his groom who was holding his horses and, asking which was the quietest, clambered onto it, seized it by the mane, and turning out his toes pressed his heels against its sides and, feeling that his spectacles were slipping off but unable to let go of the mane and reins, he galloped after the general, causing the staff officers to smile as they watched him from the knoll. (188.8.131.52-20)
Pierre tries on a variety of male identities over the course of the novel. He starts out as a partier, then becomes a religious zealot, and so on. Here he's doing his best to imitate the soldiers around him, but everyone sees how unfit he is to be one. How does Pierre react? How would another male character react in this situation of looking silly in front of a bunch of other guys? Andrei? Nikolai?
After meeting Princess Mary, though the course of his life went on externally as before, all his former amusements lost their charm for him and he often thought about her. But he never thought about her as he had thought of all the young ladies without exception whom he had met in society, nor as he had for a long time, and at one time rapturously, thought about Sonya. He had pictured each of those young ladies as almost all honest-hearted young men do, that is, as a possible wife, adapting her in his imagination to all the conditions of married life: a white dressing gown, his wife at the tea table, his wife's carriage, little ones, Mamma and Papa, their relations to her, and so on – and these pictures of the future had given him pleasure. But with Princess Mary, to whom they were trying to get him engaged, he could never picture anything of future married life. If he tried, his pictures seemed incongruous and false. It made him afraid. (184.108.40.206)
This is an interesting look at the kind of mental conditioning most "nice boys" used to get in society: they were taught to consider every woman they flirted with as a potential wife. This makes sense, since young girls could be compromised (meaning seen as damaged goods for marriage) just from a too-close flirtation with a guy who didn't end up proposing. It's in everyone's interests to keep a distance. Also, it's interesting that this conditioning and Nikolai's PG fantasy life kind of evaporates when his feelings start being real.
"Heavens! I was quite forgetting!" [Petya] suddenly cried. "I have some raisins, fine ones; you know, seedless ones. We have a new sutler and he has such capital things. I bought ten pounds. I am used to something sweet. Would you like some? . . ." and Petya ran out into the passage to his Cossack and brought back some bags which contained about five pounds of raisins. "Have some, gentlemen, have some!"
"You want a coffeepot, don't you?" he asked the esaul. "I bought a capital one from our sutler! He has splendid things. And he's very honest, that's the chief thing. I'll be sure to send it to you. Or perhaps your flints are giving out, or are worn out that happens sometimes, you know. I have brought some with me, here they are" – and he showed a bag – "a hundred flints. I bought them very cheap. Please take as many as you want, or all if you like...."
Then suddenly, dismayed lest he had said too much, Petya stopped and blushed.
He tried to remember whether he had not done anything else that was foolish. And running over the events of the day he remembered the French drummer boy. "It's capital for us here, but what of him? Where have they put him? Have they fed him? Haven't they hurt his feelings?" he thought. But having caught himself saying too much about the flints, he was now afraid to speak out.
"I might ask," he thought, "but they'll say: 'He's a boy himself and so he pities the boy.' I'll show them tomorrow whether I'm a boy. Will it seem odd if I ask?" Petya thought. "Well, never mind!" and immediately, blushing and looking anxiously at the officers to see if they appeared ironical, he said:
"May I call in that boy who was taken prisoner and give him something to eat?... Perhaps..." (220.127.116.11-16)
How does Petya compare with his brother Nikolai? What do you make of this scene where his natural generosity overcomes his fear of looking like an idiot in front of the super-macho soldiers he's trying to impress? What effect do you think watching this would have on Dolokhov? On Denisov?