What effects does war have on men? Leo Tolstoy, writer of War and Peace, addresses this issue. He uses some of his own views to show how the effects of war change people through the course of a day. Tolstoys center message is that human love, trust, and everyday family ties are life-enduring values. Pierre and Andrei see the battle in very different ways. Their views of war change as the war progresses. Prince Andrei, a Russian soldier, reflects on his life the day before the war. During the war he realizes that there are more important things in life. Pierre, a count of Russia, is there to observe the war from a distance. His curiosity puts him in the middle of the battle, and the prospective of war changes to him.
Prince Andrei, a regiment commander, thinks about the battle that is going to happen the next day and realizes this battle will be the most terrible of battles in which he has taken part. Knowing this, he reflects on things that have happened earlier in his life. Tolstoy uses realism to develop his characters. Any person in this situation would reflect on his or her life. Andrei talks about the things that have occupied or tormented him in his life. He thinks to himself, Yes, yes, there they are those false images which agitated, enthralled, and tormented me (Nelson 256). The central issues he is talking about are his love for a woman, the death of his father, and the invasion of Russia. The death of his father is the reason he feels the way he does about war. The death of anyones parents would make him or her feels some sort of rage. The French invaded Russia under Napoleon, and they swept the countryside killing any and everyone in the way. Andreis father happened to be one of those individuals, and this enraged Andrei with hatred against the French. Andrei talks about chivalry and how it does not belong in war. War is a time of mass death and destruction. He believes that you should kill or be killed during a battle. People of the world today would have to agree about this idea of chivalry during war. Andrei says, not to take prisoners, that alone would change the whole war and make it less cruel (Nelson 261).
Prince Andrei was pale and depressed like his men in the regiment that day. All the powers of his soul, like those of every soldier, were unconsciously directed to keeping his mind off the horrors around them. Any soldier would do this to keep their mind focused on the job at hand. The thoughts he had the day before were gone. He could only focus on the sounds going on around him, and his ears started growing weary. The thought of death had crept into his mind. Andrei says, Can this be death? I cant die; I dont want to die. I love lifelove this grass, this earth, this air (Nelson 279). Now that he is actually in the battle his views are starting to change. The day before the war started, he thought that you should kill or be killed, but now he does not want to die. Peasants take him to a dressing station after he has been shot, and here he has a passionate surge of love for life. People have this feeling towards death. He starts to ask questions like, What will it be like thereand what has it been here? Why was I so reluctant to relinquish life? There was about this life that I dont now understand (Nelson 281). I believe he knows that he is going to die but realizes his life is a complete mystery now.
Pierre, a count in Russia, is considered a bumbling intellectual searching for the proper way to live. He is there to observe the battlefield, the soldiers, and to learn more about war in general. People who know nothing about war want to learn about it because it interests him or her. He or she wants to look around and take in all the aspects that come with war. Pierre walks around the campsite observing the stern faces of the soldiers, but he does not understand their expressions. Andrei and Pierre talk about the men. Andrei explains some things to him about war. At that moment, Pierre understands the soldiers harsh expressions. The soldiers have the unyielding expressions because they believe in and love what they are fighting for. People who fight in wars tend to have a passion for what he or she is fighting for. Pierre learns this through the men, so his views are already starting to change.
The next day, Pierre wakes up late and hurries to the site where he will watch the battle. His curiosity of the what is truly going on down there gets him caught up in the middle of the war as he follows a general down to the battle. Being the intellectual he is, Pierre wants to learn more about the battle first hand. Pierre, riding behind the adjutant, finally notices all the death around him. In wars like this, people do not understand that death and destruction are great. Pierre finally notices this, and he does not know what to think about it. Pierre finally makes it the knoll where he stays for the rest of the day and the soldiers do not know what to think about him. When Pierre speaks to the soldiers, he speaks to them as a solider in battle. They accept him as one of them. People find it easier to accept someone when he or she speaks like they do or acts in the same way they do. The soldiers are more comfortable when someone with a higher rank than them acts the way they do. Pierre has learned a lot by this simple jester. He now knows that the regiment is like a family, and they are always willing to die for one another.
War has severe effects on men. In the story, Pierre and Andrei start with two different views. Andrei started learning that some things are more important in life to him other than war. Pierre did not know anything about war, but he learns about the men and the death and devastation it causes. Almost anyone can sympathize with how these characters feel before war and during the war. War can change how someone thinks and acts when he or she witnesses it first hand.