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Denisov yells at Petya to stay in the back and not try to be too fancy or brave. Petya is all, whatever, man.
They ride toward the village and immediately there is shooting and fighting with bayonets and sabers. It’s a crazy madhouse – basically the same kind of chaos Tolstoy described before during a battle, but just set in a small town.
Petya goes nuts and rides out toward the front. He passes Dolokhov and keeps going into the thick of the fighting. We’re thinking this is the famous “fog of war.” That expression basically describes the idea that during actual fighting, things are too confusing and soldiers are way too over-stimulated and over-adrenalined to make rational decisions, so they react purely on instinct. You need lots of training and experience to get over that, which Petya obviously has not had.
Three seconds later...Petya is shot in the head.
And just like that, he’s dead.
Dolokhov brings his body back to Denisov. Dolokhov is rather stoic and cruel about it, but Denisov gets physically ill.
But hey, even this cloud has a silver lining. They free some Russian prisoners, including Pierre.