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War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy

Books Fourteen–Fifteen

Books Twelve–Thirteen

Books Fourteen–Fifteen, page 2

page 1 of 3

Book Fourteen

The narrator again expresses his view that war is not scientific, repeating that the French defeat in Russia is rationally unexplainable. He then describes the devastation of the remaining French troops by Russian guerillas.

Dolokhov and Denisov are among the Cossack partisan fighters tracking the retreating French. Denisov receives a message delivered by Petya Rostov, who is now proudly serving in the army. Denisov and Petya come upon a French encampment and consider attacking it. Suddenly, they see a Russian peasant fleeing the French camp, whom Denisov recognizes as Tikhon, a feisty character who enjoys looting the French soldiers. Tikhon is sent off to capture a French informer, but kills the first Frenchman he finds on grounds that his clothes are not fancy enough. Denisov is disgusted by Tikhon’s cruelty. Petya, eager to please Denisov, acts kindly toward a French drummer boy the Russians have taken prisoner. Petya hopes to take part in the attack on the French camp planned for the next day, and is finally allowed to do so.

Dolokhov and Petya, disguised as French officers, enter the French camp for information about Russian prisoners of war. Back at the Russian guerilla camp, Petya is unable to sleep before the -battle, so he goes out to speak to a Cossack who sharpens Petya’s saber. Petya feels as though he is in a dream. When the battle begins, the overjoyed Petya rides with glee into the heart of the shooting. He is killed.

Entering the French camp, Dolokhov and Denisov liberate the Russian prisoners of war, including Pierre, who had been marching painfully with the French while his friend Platon Karataev grew more and more ill. One day, Platon had told a tale of a merchant who suffered for the sins of others and greeted death happily. The next day, the French had shot Platon for being ill and straggling behind the rest. When Dolokhov and Denisov release Pierre, he weeps with joy. Petya is buried.

The French army continues to disintegrate. The troops fight among themselves and plunder each other. Napoleon abandons his subordinates. Nevertheless, Russians readers of histories of the war are frustrated to note that the Russian forces were unable to destroy the remnants of the French army. The narrator explains that attacking the retreating French would have been senseless, like whipping an animal already running.

Book Fifteen

Mary and Natasha, still in exile from Moscow, grieve Andrew’s death in silence and pain. Natasha is much changed, and she refuses to return to Moscow even when the danger is past. She receives word that her brother Petya is dead, and tells her mother, both weeping. Mary attempts to console Natasha, who grows so pale and thin that her father insists that she accompany Mary to Moscow to see doctors.

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Wrong answer

by sabinkamalinka, October 22, 2013

I am currently taking Russian Literature- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and I know for a fact that the chronology for War and Peace goes throughout 18th century! You should really consider changing the answer on the War and Peace quiz!

19th century begins in 1800

by tothetin, October 23, 2013

The events of War and Peace begin in 1805 and proceed to around 1812. The century that begins in the year 1800 is referred to as the 19th century.


2 out of 2 people found this helpful

Correction to plot summary, Book 12

by keepbabbling, April 27, 2014

"Natasha takes Mary into the room where Andrew is lying, and Mary is shocked to see her brother looking soft and gentle. Mary knows this appearance to be a sign of his approaching death."
Natasha tells Mary there has been a change recently in Andrew, and while Mary expects that means he has become soft and gentle because he is dying, she is shocked to find it is the opposite -- he has become hard and indifferent. His mind has became fixed on the next life and so he no longer has any emotions for anything in the current life.

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