I wonder if Hélène thinks Pierre will attempt another dual, this time with Boris, in hopes he’ll be killed this time?
We see Pierre as others see him, as a good-natured crank. But we know better, we’ve taken the time to know this man and we empathize with him. Now imagine people who in real life we think are a bit odd and try to imagine what their inner turmoil is.
Yet we get no empathy for Hélène.
Why is Hélène so concerned about getting the marriage back together? Probably because it looks bad in society.
The words of Alexeevich are not bad advice:
“… man can only know himself by comparison”. In fact you could boil the entire point of the novel down to that very line. Everything is relative, as Einstein would prove 36 years after the novel was first published.
But what is Tolstoy really saying here? He’s telling and showing us that the only thing you can get a lot of people to agree on is to go to war. People will quarrel in society, backslide in religious organizations, corrupt at work, and all of them will be able to perfectly justify themselves and will even judge you for the same even though we all think we’re quite virtuous and possessors of the only truth
Pierre tries to get a roomful of people to agree to his point of view on universal philosophy (through Masonry). He’s young, and naive. But his aim isn’t. He is not wrong for trying, and he’s astute in noticing “the endless variety of men’s minds, which prevents a truth from ever presenting itself identically to two persons.” True wisdom begins here, in knowing everyone is an individual.
Speransky is to Andrei as the Freemasons are to Pierre. There really isn’t that much more to say about these chapters since Tolstoy does a lot of telling, though in the service of influencing Andrei and buttering him up – not to mention drawing him into active, but banal company. The truth is not here, either; Andrei and Pierre are still just as lost, if at least invigorated.