War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace Volume 3, Part 2, Chapter 36 Summary
- Andrei’s regiment is one of the reserves, which means they stand around, don’t fight, and keep losing men to stray bullets and random cannon fire. So far, a third of the men have died like this.
- The men are tense and unhappy. Everyone does his best to ignore the stretchers carrying the dead and wounded away, and instead focuses on things totally unrelated to the battle.
- Andrei doesn’t know what to do with himself. He can’t help his men, so he does things like try to walk by stomping on other people’s footsteps, or mashing his boots into the grass. It’s basically extreme boredom meets sheer terror.
- An explosive shell lands near him and some other men. A junior officer screams and gets down, and Andrei starts to think about how much he loves life and doesn’t want to die. Then suddenly he realizes he’s being watched by his men, so he yells at the junior officer to man up. All of a sudden the thing explodes and Andrei falls. Blood is oozing from his chest.
- Some peasants load him onto a stretcher and take him away to the medic station, where it’s all horrible screaming and moaning.
- Andrei comes to but can’t figure out where he is or what’s happening. He thinks he’s about to die and feels sad about the parts of life that he hasn’t figured out yet.
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