Is this unknown young officer an illegitimate son of Count Rostov? It’s a strange encounter, and if it is true then when the count dies this young man will be without any assistance in the world. I wonder if this character was meant to play a larger role in a continuing story Tolstoy had once meant to tell about the Decemberists?
As the French march in the front door, the Russians slide out the back one.
We get a closer look at the confusion in the city if anything to not only heighten the ensuing chaotic fire and Pierre’s tribulation, but also because Moscow is, rightly. a character herself in the novel. So Tolstoy gives us some local color.
While we do get a nice little lesson on what to look for in a dying beehive, Tolstoy is not himself comparing the remaining inhabitants to insects, he uses this analogy because it’s how Napoleon would see the city, as a prize with honey and the inhabitants all useless drones. The soul/queen has fled (Natasha) and only Pierre is left to defend the hive ineptly and without real vigor.
I always imagine this scene of Napoleon standing before Moscow as if it is dream-like, as if he could reach out and touch the city, but then never be able to touch it. There is something ethereal about the city that seems unreal – even Napoleon can’t believe he’s in Moscow – and this is how Tolstoy shows us how the French can never have the city.
I love how he has to wait for the boyars who will never come
Makar Alexeevich is an interesting character (and will almost get everyone killed later), but here is this mad remnant of Pierre’s benefactor in Masonry. We don’t ever get to know Makar so it’s impossible to say anything with certainty, but it seems his brother did care for him as is one of the tenants of their religion. But he does serve to show Pierre’s growing madness and the uneasy atmosphere of Moscow
I never before realized that when the Rostov’s see Pierre in the coachman’s coat as they flee Moscow that he is only a few yards away from Andrei, too. This would be the last time they were in the same place and how different they both are from the beginning of the novel when Andrei told Pierre not to fall into Dolokhov’s crowd (the bear and policeman) and how Pierre had not yet become wealthy.