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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 3, Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary

  • Russian troops keep retreating. French troops keep following. In August, they’ve cleared Smolensk, and on the 10th they get to the Bolkonsky estate. It’s hot – really hot. The Russian troops don’t have enough water.
  • Andrei, meanwhile, is really feeling good at the head of his regiment. No one there knows about his past, and he can just focus on being a good leader and dealing with his men and not worrying about all the mess from his past life. And it probably helps that the soldiers love him.
  • Andrei got a letter saying that his family left their estate, but he still decides to go check it out.
  • The place is deserted and falling apart. The only person he sees is an old peasant fixing shoes on a bench.
  • Alpatych has stayed behind to take care of the place. All the valuables are gone, and everyone else is at the other Bolkonsky estate near Moscow.
  • As Andrei is leaving, Alpatych starts crying and clings to his leg. Andrei pushes him away and rides off.
  • As he rides, he notices some girls stealing plums from a tree in the garden. They see him but think he hasn’t seen them. He quickly rides away so they don’t get scared. Well, isn’t that thoughtful. Also kind of gross, since the text points out that they are just girls, but that Andrei finds the older one attractive.
  • Anyway, he rides off and finds his regiment near a pond. The pond is filthy, but the day is so hot that Andrei wants to go in...until he sees how many other naked guys are in there already.
  • Andrei has some kind of deep-thoughts moment. All those naked bodies flopping around in the dirty, muddy water gross him out in an existential way.
  • Meanwhile, in the big picture, we get to see a letter that Bagration writes to Emperor Alexander via the war minister.
  • Basically he says that splitting the army between him and Barclay isn’t working. Also that Barclay is an idiot and if Bagration had been in charge, they could have won the Smolensk battle. And also that Barclay is clearly the wrong man for the job because he’s not Russian and so doesn’t have the kind of patriotic feelings that are important to winning a war.

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