The strain is even getting to Maira – she acts irrationally, though always regrets and repents for her actions. And she always sees how even when her father is cruel to her, that he is old and weak and failing and that she must forgive him. It’s theme moments that make his last moments later on the more touching.
Yet I still question the rightness of Maria’s sacrifice. I still feel she should live more.
While Nicholas and Natasha dress up in costumes, Pierre will eventually do the same, but much more seriously in Moscow during the invasion.
Pierre is adrift. Like Natasha who also sees how fake and pointless everything is, he has nothing to guide him. Everything seems a waste of time to pass the time. It’s no wonder then that it’s because he and Natasha are not together, though they don’t know that
The power of family in how Natasha, listening to the argument, saves everyone by interrupting them. As good as Sonia is, it’s remarkable that an even better person, Maria, awaits him later on, though only after he learns a lot more sacrifice. His whole adult life has trying to reign in passion, sacrifice pleasure for responsibility, but not always succeeding – in fact he’ll always have quite the temper.
While he’s not explicitly saying so, Tolstoy is showing us what a fraud fortunetellers are (just like today’s horoscopes). Yet it’s more complicated that just outright fraud: Sonia only wants to tell Natasha what she wants to hear, and this is the trap people fall into: only wanting to hear what they want to hear. The truth is, for her, Andrei will not marry her, and she knows this, but refuses reality.
Now in full costume, fully disguised from each other Nicholas and Sonia “see” each other anew. But they are only playing at a game, they are changed outwardly and it’s confusing for them and they are not seeing reality as it is. And while this is a magical scene, it can only lead to sadness – as hinted earlier with the Contess Rostova’s treatment of Sonia.
This is a subtle jab at military uniforms, too.