Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 13, 2023
December 6, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
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.
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.
Unable to pursue the retreating French effectively, Kutuzov
is accused of blundering in 1812—a view shared
by many historians. The narrator disagrees with this opinion, considering
Kutuzov an unsung hero. The Russian troops are in excellent spirits,
singing and dancing despite the wretched conditions. Two exhausted
French officers emerge from the forest, one of them Ramballe, whom
Pierre saved earlier. The Russians give the Frenchmen food and drink.
General Kutuzov, meanwhile, goes to Vilna for rest and
recovery. The tsar meets him and, despite criticism of Kutuzov’s
military maneuvers, awards him the highest state honors. The tsar
wishes to continue the war, but Kutuzov objects, citing the impossibility
of levying fresh troops. Kutuzov is replaced as military commander, and
After reaching safety, Pierre falls ill for three months.
After his recovery, he reminisces about the events of the war, including
the deaths of Petya and Andrew. He gradually understands that he
will no longer be ordered anywhere, that food is available, and
that his wife and the French are no longer threats to him. He is
no longer obsessed by questions about the meaning of life, but simply
accepts life as its own meaning, in accordance with God’s will.
Everyone notices that Pierre has become simpler after his ordeal.
His estate manager informs him that the burning of Moscow has cost
Pierre two million rubles, but that if Pierre does not rebuild,
he could come out ahead financially. Pierre muses that loss has
made him richer. Meanwhile, Muscovites return to their city, making
it even more populous by 1813 than it was
before the war. Pierre returns to his house in Moscow. He visits
Princess Mary in her house when a lady in black is there also, and
only after much time has passed does he realize the lady is Natasha.
Pierre understands immediately that he loves Natasha.
Mary, Natasha, and Pierre speak of the deaths of Andrew
and Petya, and Pierre says that faith is necessary to accept such
losses. With Pierre present, Natasha is able to share deep feelings
about Andrew she has never spoken of before. Pierre tells of his
adventures in Moscow, and Mary contemplates the possibility of love
between Natasha and Pierre. Afterward, Natasha and Mary privately
talk about Pierre, and Mary calls him splendid and morally improved after
The next day, Pierre realizes he loves Natasha and must
be her husband. He is full of goodwill toward everyone, and even
finds Moscow’s ruins beautiful. Pierre goes to visit Mary and Natasha
for dinner again, staying later than he should and telling them
he plans to remain in Moscow. Privately, Mary tells Pierre that
he has a chance of winning Natasha, but that it is best that he
leave Moscow for the present. Pierre is deliriously happy. Natasha
is likewise overcome with joy when Mary tells her what Pierre has
Tolstoy’s attitude toward the war as a Russian writer
comes across clearly in these chapters. He attributes the final
Russian victory over Napoleon and the withdrawal of French troops
to Russia’s spiritual greatness, but he does not narrate with patriotism.
However, the narrator spares no praise in describing the Muscovites
who leave behind their possessions rather than submit to foreign
occupation. Likewise, he praises the way in which Kutuzov leads
his troops with Russian soulful sensitivity rather than French logic.
Furthermore, the narrator’s portrait of Platon Karataev’s peasant
virtues is a clear tribute to the Russian countryside. Yet Tolstoy
does not exaggerate Russian virtues, and he also reveals to us the
dark side of the Russian war experience. The grim episode in which
the peasant guerilla Tikhon needlessly kills a potential French
prisoner of war shows us the cruelty of which the Russian peasant
is capable. By the same token, the shocking death of Petya Rostov
reminds us that even successful wars of defense—even ones that save
Russia—bring needless and tragic deaths. Tolstoy shows the war to
have been useful and good, but he does not revel in it patriotically
Pierre’s reaction to the killing of Platon Karataev shows
us the deep reserves of selfless sympathy that help define his character. Pierre
had hardly known Platon long, but the loss is traumatic to him,
and he is unable to bring himself to watch the shooting. The howling
of the little dog communicates all we need to know about the devastation
of this loss for Pierre, which affects him almost on an animal level.
The vision of Platon returns to Pierre later during his recuperation,
proving again his extraordinary connection with this unknown Russian
peasant. Pierre’s ability to forge deep emotional connections with
strangers forms a striking contrast with Napoleon, who shows no
emotional connections even with those near him. The narrator makes
a point of emphasizing how Napoleon took a warm fur coat for himself
during the French retreat, riding off alone and abandoning his troops
and officers. French individualism is portrayed in a strongly negative
light, the opposite of the Russian tendency for warm human relations.
Natasha and Pierre’s sudden love is one of the most surprising developments
in War and Peace. Pierre’s first wife, Helene,
is nothing like Natasha, and he finds nothing but disappointment
in their marriage. Natasha has been in love with several men by
this point; her feelings toward Pierre have always been warm but
not romantic. Yet, in another sense, this love almost seems predestined
and inevitable. Natasha and Pierre are the two most emotionally
sincere and profound characters in the novel, both of them displaying
a childlike openness toward the world that neither of their earlier
respective love interests, Andrew or Helene, had. Natasha and Pierre
share a sensitivity and depth that make them perfect emotional matches for
each other. Moreover, both of them have suffered enormously in the
past year, enduring extraordinary personal losses that have forced
them both to turn inward and reevaluate the meaning of life. They
are both ready for a renewal, and their love is perfectly timed. The
fact that their relationship develops under the supervision of the morally
wise Mary gives a kind of validity and sanctity to it, a sense that
their love has been blessed.
Ace your assignments with our guide to War and Peace!