he saw the Panama Canal just before it was complete and the two oceans were finally connected. The world was still much bigger then. He also points out the clouds of mosquitoes and rows of their victims in the Panamanian cemeteries. Progress that Europe began and America finished.
I love that in America he learned more from finding jobs and seeing the opportunity for someone willing to work than through any culture (which at the time the country lacked). This privileged boy from Vienna lived, vicariously, as an immigrant. I don’t believe he actually took the book clerk job.
These children of a privileged time and position are seeing what’s really going on in the world and how what they study is used as a weapon. Haushofer and his wife would kill themselves at the end of WW2, probably from moral grief.
Karl Haushofer learned the hard way how academic ideas can be used to twisted ends. His geopolitics was first studied by Hess who then passed it to Hitler who ‘pumped it dry’ (First we will conquer Germany and then the entire world.)
From Wikipedia: Lebensraum (“living space”) refers to conceptions and policies of a form of settler colonialism connected with agrarianism that existed in Germany from the 1890s to the 1940s. One variant of this policy was supported by the Nazi Party and Nazi Germany. Karl Haushofer provided the Nazis with the rationalisations (intellectual, academic, scientific) for Lebensraum, transmitted to Chancellor Adolf Hitler, by way of Rudolf Hess, who was Haushofer’s student.
ma pauvre mere (my poor mother)
For the first time Pierre talks about and admits to his love for Natasha. And he does so with the “enemy” whom he’s supposed to hate. They talk of love, they tell their life stories, they share their experiences with each other. They talk about what they should be doing – loving, not killing. And implied in Ramballe’s stories are how me misses home.
And not just because Pierre is a good man that he looses his will to kill Napoleon, but because he made friends with the enemy. Captain Ramballe is the first Frenchman we really meet other than Napoleon (there was that drummer boy earlier and Nicholas’ captured officer, but we never get to know them). Here now is the enemy before us, and though arrogant, he’s a good-natured man. Pierre can’t kill now.
Pierre wants to be incognito but he’s too honest and when Makar Alexeevich nearly kills the French officer he immediately becomes his true Pierre. Pierre cannot help but be who he is: a good, confused man.
The limp of the French officer is a nice touch, it shows how wounded the whole French army is.
The arrogance of the French officer is not cruel or mean spirited.
Again, Tolstoy uses Makar Alexeevich as a mirror to physically show the turmoil inside Pierre. Though unlike Pierre, Makar Alexeevich will actually get a shot off, even if it is as a madman.
“in the now silent corridor the sound of several hands knocking at the front door could be heard.”: I love this sentence, you can actually hear that sound. But it’s in a way the sound of people trying to reach Pierre.
Tolstoy makes a good argument for what really started the fire in Moscow: carelessness in an abandoned wooden city. And while I understand why the Russians would be angry at the French for burning down their holy city, tactically it’s a brilliant move for the Russians. The French want Moscow? Burn Moscow. And this is literally why you can’t invade and occupy Russia.
“Who these men were nobody knew. “Clear that away!” was all that was said of them, and they were thrown over the parapet and removed later on that they might not stink.” That line sums up the lack of humanity that prevails in all war, but it also underscores how men who hate each other feel about the other’s worth. “Clear that away”. Andrei would recognize this when he saw the men in the water: fodder.