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OK, that’s enough big-picture summary. Now back to the people we know and love. (Well, OK, the people we are sort of acquainted with and like.)
Andrei got Kutuzov to let him come to General Bagration’s division and be where the action is.
Bagration doesn’t really know what to make of Andrei. He gives him the option of actually going into battle (which he says will happen in a day or two), or taking the easy way out and hanging out at the back of the troops.
Andrei chooses the hard way, obviously.
He rides out to get the lay of the land and the position of the troops.
The duty officer rides out with him and is giddy to be in the company of an aristocrat.
They get to an officer mess hall, where there are a bunch of people who are apparently not supposed to be there. Why? It’s hard to tell.
But whatever – one of the people in the mess is Captain Tushin, who is chillaxing barefoot. The duty officer yells at him, but he kind of shrugs it off.
Andrei really likes him for some reason.
After eating, Andrei ditches the duty officer and rides off to see the rest of the troops alone.
The closer he gets to the front, the more orderly and less chaotic the troops are.
Then Andrei gets to the frontline itself. And here we get the weirdest ever reality check about how wars were fought in the 19th century.
Are you ready? Get this: the Russian soldiers are so close to the French soldiers here that they’re just standing around and talking to each other. That’s just crazy.
Andrei sees Dolokhov (the guy from the bear and policeman party, who got a huge demotion for that stunt) arguing with a French guy about whose army is better. It’s like two sports teams trash talking. Only, you know, with fewer points scored and more dead people.