War and Peace Volume 1, Part 1, Chapter 24 Summary
OK guys, dinnertime in the army. Uh, make that at the Bolkonskys’.
Everyone is gathered around the table waiting for Prince Bolkonsky, including Mikhail Ivanovich, a lowly architect. Normally he'd be way too low-class to ever get a seat at this table, but Prince Bolkonsky has him sitting with the family as some kind of lesson about all people being equal. Or something. Everyone kind of treats this as a crazy quirk, and Mikhail Ivanovich himself tries to talk as little as possible and be invisible.
Andrei notices a giant new portrait of some Bolkonsky ancestor on the wall and laughs that his dad is so snobbily into the family lineage. (Real equality, right there.)
Marya is totally shocked that her brother would laugh at their dad. To her he is to be respected and feared, no questions asked.
Prince Bolkonsky joins them, and dinner is served.
Prince Bolkonsky talks a little bit to Liza, whom he apparently doesn’t know too well. She goes off about city gossip and stuff, and suddenly he just turns away and starts another conversation. Smooth.
The new conversation? About Napoleon of course. Because this book is not just about peace – but also war. We don’t know what gives it away.
Prince Bolkonsky was a general back in the day, and he doesn’t care for all these new soldiers with their fancy new ways. Mostly he just complains that the famous generals of yore aren’t still leading the army. Oh, and the other thing he's convinced about is that Napoleon is not a great general – he’s just fighting against total idiots (i.e. the Germans) that anyone could conquer. Yikes, Prince, tell us how you really feel!
Andrei doesn’t argue with him because it would be pointless.