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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 1, Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary

  • After getting things all squared away with Pierre, Prince Vassily starts in on plan number two, also known as “get Anatole married off to the homely heiress.” That would be Andrei's sister Marya.
  • Prince Bolkonsky gets a letter announcing that Prince Vassily is coming to visit, and that his plus-one is Anatole Kuragin, his son. This does not make Bolkonsky happy.
  • The night before Vassily and Anatole are supposed to show up, it snows heavily. The drive is plowed, but Bolkonsky comes out and furiously demands that the snow to be put back (!). He hates Vassily and wants to make life as difficult for him as possible.
  • It turns out that, back in the day, Bolkonsky got Vassily started on his career path. Now Bolkonsky has been banished to his estates, while Vassily is constantly on the rise.
  • At dinner Mlle. Bourienne knows to act all innocent, like she doesn’t know why the Kuragins are coming.
  • Meanwhile, Marya is, as always, a disappointment to her dad, all sad and scared looking.
  • Liza, scared of her father-in-law, doesn’t show up at all, pretending not to feel well because of the pregnancy. (Seems believable.)
  • That night Vassily and Anatole arrive and have to drag all their stuff over the piled-up snow.
  • Anatole spruces himself up in his room, then goes to see his father. He’s pretty much sold on the marriage idea but keeps asking just how ugly the girl is.
  • Meanwhile, Marya sits in her room, worrying, hoping, freaking out, trying to relax, and so on. She’s having feelings, is what we’re saying.
  • Liza and Mlle. Bourienne come over, criticize what Marya is wearing, and start to redress her and redo her hair. They try over and over again, but Marya only has one attractive feature – her eyes – and even then, only when she's feeling happy or good. Right now she looks bad, and no dress or hairstyle can fix it.
  • After giving it the old college try, Liza and Mlle. Bourienne give up and leave.
  • Marya starts daydreaming about having a husband and children. But then she realizes with a shock that she is daydreaming about gettin’ it on. She's horrified and feels dirty and gross and starts to pray the desire away. Given that she's human, this doesn't really work.
  • (Oh, and by the way, admitting that women have sexual desires is pretty radical for a 19th-century novel.)

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