War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The story that Platon tells to Pierre over and over when they are prisoners together (Chapter 4.3.13) sounds a bit like a parable. Considering that this encounter with the saintly Platon changes Pierre's life, we're guessing the story is important.
Basically, Platon's story goes like this, give or take a few details. A man is falsely convicted of murder and sent off to do hard labor. One day the convicts start sharing their stories, and the falsely convicted man tells them that even though he didn't kill anyone, he's there suffering for whatever small sins he's committed in his life. He doesn't feel bad for himself, just for his wife and kids, who have been left with nothing. After the convicts get the story out of him, it turns out that the real murderer is actually there too. He feels terrible and confesses to the prison warden. The warden sends off a letter to the tsar, who eventually sends the falsely accused man a pardon. All this takes a long time, though (you know, the mail back in the day), and by the time the pardon comes the guy is dead.
Platon's moral from this story is that the guy had gotten the ultimate forgiveness – God's. Are there other ways to interpret the story? How does Pierre respond to it?