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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 3, Part 2, Chapter 34 Summary

  • Every time the French generals send their troops into battle, they come running back out all disordered and broken. The French generals are confused.
  • Finally, they send word to Napoleon that they need reinforcements. Then it’s his turn to be all, huh? Because this hasn’t happened in any other battle, you see.
  • Napoleon says no about the reinforcements for some reason, again and again, telling his officers that they are just not getting how the battle is going. Right, that must be it.
  • Finally, Napoleon relents and lets the reinforcements come.
  • He sits, having deep thoughts about how even though everything is the same – same armies, same strategies, same preparations – the roll of the dice has suddenly fallen against him. That’s gambling talk. Again, here we go with the everything-is-random-chance motif.
  • And even though there are sometimes reports of good news, Napoleon is experienced enough to know when things aren’t going his way. Like now, say.
  • He rides out to look at the battle more closely. It’s the most horrible carnage, mutilation, and destruction anyone has ever seen. A small space, ten hours’ worth of guns firing, and heaps and heaps of dead and wounded. It’s really just the worst thing ever, impossible to describe.
  • Napoleon realizes that he has been defeated.

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