Rostov embodies the spirit of any inexperienced young man in battle: he will preform his duty even if it means riding straight into the enemy’s fire. He wouldn’t dare to think to disobey his orders because of the danger, in fact the more dangerous the more likely he is to carry it out. Yet it never occurs to him that he’s on a fool’s errand, that his efforts are in vain and meaningless. He is being used.
“How was it I did not see that lofty sky before? And how happy I am to have found it at last! Yes! All is vanity, all falsehood, except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing, but that. But even it does not exist, there is nothing but quiet and peace. Thank God!”
This is the moment the novel opens up to what Tolstoy wants to talk about – the BIG questions.
Andrei is a hero on a losing battle.
Mostly this is just a chapter setting the stage for battle with Kutuzov being surly and almost disrespectful to the Emperor. This is interesting, however, in that we see a power struggle of sorts – the youthful (though recently ill) Emperor against the tired and cynical old General. Kutuzov knows this battle will be lost and he’s putting himself in a position where he can be blamed for it, too.