War and Peace Volume 3, Part 2, Chapter 30 Summary
Pierre comes back from Andrei’s, crashes, and doesn't wake up until late the next morning. When he gets up, everyone is already long gone off to the battle.
After he finally gets a move on and hustles out the door, he’s amazed by how beautiful the battlefield is now that it’s all covered with soldiers running around. There’s greenery, riverbanks, gunfire, and smoky mist from the shots all over the place. Very picturesque.
Pierre is sort of hypnotized by the sound of bullets and the little puffs of smoke coming out of gun barrels. He’s feeling the same kind of thing that all the soldiers apparently are. It’s actually not quite clear what feeling this is – some kind of mixture of fear, bravery, and excitement, we’re guessing?
A nearby general starts to go down to the river crossing, and Pierre tags along after him.
He rides like a total noob, almost falling off the horse.
Time for a yummy Shmoop brain snack. This is probably the point in the novel to start thinking about the fact that Tolstoy himself cut his journalistic chops during the Crimean War, several decades before writing this novel. That was a gruesome war too, where almost as many soldiers died from disease and bad conditions as from the actual fighting. Tolstoy wrote war reports and then later fictionalized his experiences as the Sevastopol Sketches, a bunch of short stories. As you read, ask yourself who Pierre is supposed to be standing in for here. Is he like the author, trying to get a good sense of what’s happening? Is he helping out the reader, who is also probably not up on his battlefield knowledge? How is the battle different for Pierre than for the soldiers? For the generals?