Andrei is bitter, to the point that he even thinks his father is making fun of him not being in a winning battle. Though we don’t get his thoughts I think his attitude is a combination of feeling guilty about his wife dying, nervousness at raising this small child, disillusionment at having been in a battle that went badly, and a lack of direction. And he never really has direction until he falls in love.
Battle of Eylau is important to be mentioned here because it shows a weakness in Napoléon’s Grande Armée no matter how uncertain that may be. There might be hope yet at a time when Pierre and Andrei seem to have lost all hope in life, though at least Pierre has something to reevaluate his life with.
I really hate Hélène, she’s such a bad person. Her whole family are bad people. The timing here is noted in that the very next chapter after Pierre kicked Vasili, Hélène invited Boris in. Pierre is smart to get away from these people, but Boris needs these people to really advance in society. And so Tolstoy is offering us a choice: favor in society, or favor in family. Which is more important to you?
Boris should have been given more attention, if anything because Tolstoy really didn’t need to just tell us what he was up to, we had already figured out he was opportunistic and only looked for relationships that could further him. I compare him to Dolokhov but without the violence. However, his path takes him into society, something Tolstoy despises. Better to be a Rostov, whom Boris now ignores.
Though Pierre is under the influence of the Masons, he still does the right thing by cutting ties with Vasili. He could have handled it better, and in fact is still acting rashly as he did with Dolokhov, but he’s learning who he is and how to do things that are for his own good as he wants it, not as others want it.
Dueling was still going to happen whether or not the tsar approved.
Oh if only it were that easy? Perform such and such ritual, pledge a bit of money, and your life will change forever and you will be free of all your vices and insincerities.
Yet for Pierre he really does feel a change in him because he so wants to, he’s just not found the right way about it. He will fall much further as the novel goes on, but he’ll never lose his kind heartedness.