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War and Peace

War and Peace

by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 3, Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary

  • Are Marya and Co. actually in Moscow and out of danger? Not so much, it turns out.
  • When Alpatych came back from Smolensk, crazy old Bolkonsky all of a sudden started being super busy trying to somehow fortify their estate against the French, or something. (Who knows what’s going on in his head, really.)
  • The old man tells Marya to take Nikolushka and make for the other estate near Moscow.
  • He’s clearly not OK, so Marya for once in her life disobeys him and sticks around, sending Dessales and Nikolushka on ahead.
  • Prince Bolkonsky yells at her and generally is a huge jerk – but what else is new. She decides that since he didn’t have someone forcibly remove her, he must be glad she’s staying. (There must be a better way to communicate to someone that you want them around than, “Well, I didn’t have armed guards remove you, did I?”)
  • Anyway, it turns out that Marya staying was a good call. The next day Prince Bolkonsky collapses from a massive stroke.
  • He’s paralyzed and can’t talk much, but he clearly wants to say something. Now they really can’t go anywhere because he can’t be transported. (The carriage would bump and shake and rattle over every stone and pothole on the road, which was a pretty hard ride for even a healthy person.)
  • Marya watches him and realizes that she’s hoping to see a sign that he’s dying. She’s horrified but can’t help herself. Not only does she want him to die, but she is suddenly all excited about the possibilities for her future with him out of the way.
  • Meanwhile, it’s getting more and more likely that their estate is going to be in danger, and everyone needs to get the heck to Moscow as quickly as humanly possible. But of course, no dice, with Prince Bolkonsky on his deathbed.
  • Finally, the village police show up and tell Marya to leave. Right now.
  • She gets everything together, and the next day she goes to see her father again. He keeps trying to say something, and finally Marya figures out that he’s giving her a giant apology for the way he’s treated her all her life. Which...well, are we in agreement that this is probably too little, too late? But still kind of sweet.
  • His mind wanders, then he comes to again and tells Marya that she should wear her white dress because he likes it. Aw. We guess.
  • It’s totally working on Marya. She cries and goes outside. He has another stroke. By the time she comes back, he’s dead.
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