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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 1, Part 1, Chapter 25 Summary

  • Andrei is all packed and ready to go.
  • Marya comes to see him, tells him she misses him, can’t believe he’s so grown up, and then asks him to be nicer to his wife.
  • Andrei is like, “well, I didn’t tell you we were having issues, so...I guess Liza spilled the beans, huh.” Marya can’t deny it and tries to get him to empathize with Liza, a woman who’s used to society and lots of social life. Now she's going to be stuck in the country with the Bolkonskys and a newborn – oh, and Mlle. Bourienne.
  • Andrei busts out with the fact that he really doesn’t like the governess, but Marya defends her.  Turns out Prince Bolkonsky took her in as an orphan and thinks of her like a pet or something.
  • Finally, Marya gets all dramatic and serious and makes Andrei promise to do her a favor...to wear an icon around his neck like his grandfather did when he went to war. (This is a tiny miniature that would be small enough to be a pendant on a necklace.)
  • Andrei half-seriously, half-jokingly takes it. It looks like the family spans the religious spectrum, with Prince Bolkonsky and Andrei closer to atheism, and Marya extremely devout.
  • Andrei gets back to his marital issues. He says, basically, look, no one is going to cheat on anyone else, but for some reason we are just not happy together, even though there’s nothing really wrong with either of us. (This is an amazingly realistic description of a relationship – especially since so many other 19th century writers were producing really melodramatic novels.)
  • Marya goes to wake up Liza, and Andrei follows. Before he comes into the room, Mlle. Bourienne corners him in the hallway and comes on to him.  The 19th century version of that is basically:
  • Mlle. Bourienne: Oh, Prince Andrei, I see you are walking down this hallway.
  • Andrei: Ugh, filthy strumpet! Stop your wicked temptressings of me!
  • Anyway, Andrei overhears his wife telling Marya some joke that he’s heard her make five times before, word for word. You can almost see his eyes rolling.
  • But he tries to be nice and says goodbye.
  • Finally, he goes to see his dad.
  • Andrei asks that when Liza goes into labor, they send for a doctor from Petersburg to help deliver. In this age of midwives, Andre seems ridiculous. Prince Bolkonsky is all, wha? But then agrees.
  • Then the Prince says to his son something like "wives, can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em, am I right?" And Andrei realizes that his father has figured out how unhappy his marriage is. It’s kind of a nice moment.
  • Prince Bolkonsky promises to take care of Liza and the baby, then gives Andrei some tough love about not being a coward on the battlefield. Prince Bolkonsky is clearly upset at the thought that Andrei might die, but hides it by getting all mad about nothing.
  • They come out, Andrei kisses Liza goodbye, she faints, and he leaves. 
  • Boom, end of Part 1.

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