Pierre and Natasha are no longer the delicate, French-ified society that is insulated from the rel world. Natasha breastfeeds and Pierre can put up with a baby relieving itself in his hand.
Personally I identify more with Nicholas. I’m not a fan of infants – in fact I don’t want to deal with them until they are about 5 or 6 years old.
I never picked up before that Denisov doesn’t really care for Pierre.
The most important thing to take away from this chapter is how like a peasant woman Natasha has become. She’s become natural, she’s “let herself go” (which I think is a terrible expression), and she nurses her own children unlike any other Russian woman of her class at the time. She is, in essence, Tolstoy’s idea of a perfect wife. Maria is more realistic.
We have seen Nicholas’ anger and now we see his moodiness. This makes Maria uneasy, especially since she’s sensitive to this sort of erratic behavior from her father, but when Nicholas hugs his daughter and kisses her you can see the love he has for his family, how he’s rebuilt the family in more solid, if humble ground. Though is is similar to the old Count, too with his seriousness and exactness.
I don’t really agree with how Tolstoy handles Sonya, but then she’s similar to Andrei’s first wife whom, though no fault of her own, was used up and died in childbirth before her own life ever began. Andrei seemed to think the expression on his wife’s face said “What did I ever do to anybody?” and the same could be said to Sonya. But I think she still loves Nicholas and this is the best she can hope for.
They both talk down of the lower classes, but Jacinta really seems to despise them, though having learned of her husband’s past with egg girl it’s no wonder she’s haughty.
The baby talk, “yeth”, “D’ya luv me?” feels very real and very modern. I don’t think of people back then being so real and silly, but I’m obviously wrong.
Barbarita cut off Estupina’s wedding speech right away because you know he’d go on and on, talker that he is.
She’s (Fortunata) eating a raw egg. And just after the stench below of those birds all being killed. Interesting image. And the slime running between her fingers. Hmm.
He even quotes the chickens squabbling and being jealous of each other right before they’re killed.
You really feel like you’re in Madrid, right there with the regular people, taking, walking, shopping, praying. Remarkable!
“Estupina belonged to that breed of shopkeepers – scarcely extant now – size dual role in the business world seems to have been that of attenuating the evils created by a surplus market and dissuading consumers fron their unhealthy inclination to spend.”
Time is marked by the innovations : bank notes (better stick to gold), railroads, pile rugs and spring mattresses, even the first matches. The tertulia meetings talked of the English making boats out of iron.
We get a glimpse of what a merchant / middle class life was like in Madrid. Isabel with her 7 daughters, from a total of many more who died, to staying ahead as best they could in business (a woman with the ideas), to how quickly 50 kilos of coal burn off. “Without being old, she looked it.”
The English and their navy control trade to the far East and so it’s cheaper to buy Chinese goods from England instead of directly from China.
The progress of the early 19th century must have been dizzying, and not just technology but socially, too. The rich begin dressing like the rest of Europe; the poor still dress in the vivid colors.
Of Juanito’s school lessons and his learning , “[she] stuffed them into his brain by fistfulls, like wool into a cushion.”