The children play at being adults, but we do see the importance of the family in these scenes, how these relationships are very serious, even of the children are playing at them. Natasha is ever lively and acts on impulse, and her transformation is hinted at when she stands among the flowers, first in the obvious sense, but also since it’s dark in the room, we eventually see her change will be dramatic.
Tolstoy’s genius was in how well he understood what people were always thinking, and the mistakes most people made in their thinking. He observes how the Countess wrongly believes her daughter has no secrets from her, just as most parents wrongly believe. It’s these little observations which teach us how similar we all are, even in times of war. Vera (and Berg) are Tolstoy’s bourgeois; he liked serfs better.
Here we meet the energy of the novel, Natasha. We see the warm glow of the happy family juxtaposed to the bawdy revelry of Dolokhov’s party. Her first words “Do you see?” echo Andrei’s last moments alive when he has his vision. Her life contrasts to his reserve. The book is filled with these contrasts, of opposites attracting and people ever behaving as you assume, such as the very smart Captain Tushin
Count Rostov is an interesting study of a man. He is agreeable, everyone like him, but he’s weak and naive and abhors any conflict to the point of giving away everything he has. He’s the good natured noble who is also foolish. He’s not cruel, but his irresponsibility is his weakness. He’s the exact opposite of the elder Prince Bolkonsky. The former dies disillusioned, the later dies near madness.
First dance scene, though it’s with the Bear and a drunk Pierre. This chapter shows how rowdy the men are and how a war might do them some good since all they’re doing now is drinking. The best line in the entire chapter is from Dolokhov when he says to let Pierre attempt the same drunk stunt he just pulled off – it shows how little he cares for anyone, especially when they could be killed – foreshadow Petya.
If you held a gun to my head and asked me if I thought Tolstoy liked women I would have to say no he didn’t. I do believe it was a complicated relationship he had with women and it wasn’t a matter of all-out hate but I believe he felt men and men’s society superior. And it really is an enigma with him because he understood people SO well, he had the greatest empathy of any writer, yet he didn’t like women
Tolstoy does not paint a very pretty picture of marriage, especially how the women are at the mercy of the men’s decisions – be it going to war (or having war in general), to generally being unkind to their wives. This scene bookends the final scene of the book with a much happier family. We also get a better look at Andrei who is always difficult to understand. He’s like a poorer copy of his father.