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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 3, Part 1, Chapter 21 Summary

  • Petya runs off to his room and cries himself to sleep.
  • The next morning Emperor Alexander comes to Moscow, and huge throngs of people get ready to go look at him.
  • Petya spends a long time getting dolled up. He has a fantasy of going up to one of Alexander’s ministers and volunteering to serve. In his daydream, they are all super-impressed with his youth (he’s 15), and he imagines all the patriotic things he would say to the tsar.
  • But in real life, the closer he gets to the Kremlin, the more crowded it gets. 
  • OK, time for a little history and architecture lesson. The Kremlin was a walled castle in the middle of Moscow that was built for Russian tsars to live in.  More recently it was where the communist government was headquartered. It’s still the government building now – basically it’s Russia’s White House.
  • Everyone is pushing and shoving, Petya is sweating, and slowly he realizes that his fantasy isn’t really going to happen.
  • Finally, they see Alexander. Everyone loses it and starts screaming and cheering.
  • Petya is elbowed in the ribs and passes out. When he comes to, some church official is protecting him from the crowd. Petya climbs up on a nearby cannon and watches from a slight height.
  • After this glorious day, Petya comes back home and announces that if his parents don’t let him join the army, he is going to run away from home and do it himself. The next day his dad goes off to see if he can get his son an army post somewhere that’s not too dangerous.

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