Summary and Analysis
Book XI: Chapters 30–34
With the road so crowded, the Rostovs are able to travel only five versts out of Moscow, and they stop for the night among some huts in a small village. An ever-brightening glow shines from Moscow, and the servants who sit outside the hut mourn and pray for"our mother, the white city" doomed to burn.
In his fever and pain, Prince Andrey is constantly delirious. Trying to order his thoughts, he recalls the experience of loving the man he hated. When he was in the hospital tent getting treatment for his wound, Anatole Kuragin had just suffered a leg amputation. Prince Andrey wept in tenderness and sympathy for the man he hated. Close to death then, he suddenly felt what divine love is: the kind of love that never changes. He shared for a moment God's universal love for every human soul, whether friend or enemy. Recalling Natasha now, he realizes he loves her and has always loved her despite his momentary hatred of her as well. He wishes he could tell her this. Suddenly an unidentifiable white shape hovers at the door like a dream and approaches his bedside. Andrey realizes at last his wish has become a reality. Smiling, he holds his hand to her and she drops to her knees beside him. From then on, Natasha refuses to leave his side and the doctors admit she has unusual skill and fortitude in nursing the sick man.
Pierre walks across Moscow, armed with the pistol and dagger with which he intends to kill Napoleon. On his way, he rescues a child from a burning building and defends a young woman against a Frenchman. The scuffle attracts the attention of some Polish Uhlans who are scouring the city in search of incendiaries. Because Pierre carries weapons, they arrest him and he is placed under strict guard.
Because of his humanity, Pierre is sidetracked from his goal of murder. Being equally motivated toward saving life as well as destroying life, containing within himself the power of life and death, Pierre is prepared by Tolstoy for a major revelation. The same is true for Prince Andrey and Natasha as they are united in love during the last death-shadowed moments of Andrey's life. The intense mingling of living with dying generates the"salvation" and moment of truth that ultimately defines Tolstoy's characters.