Sunday, May 2, 2010

Volume II, Book II, Chapter XI

Well, as I said, quite a chapter.

Pierre notices that Andrei is a bit down in the dumps, and has lost his sparkle. They speak as if they're mere acquaintances. Even when Andrei starts to talk about his plan for the house, he stops abruptly and says they should just go to dinner.

Over dinner the fireworks start a bit. Andrei finally gets passionate when confronted with Pierre's ideas about helping others being the greatest good. Andrei does not agree, even when it's pointed out that he's helping his sister, his son, and his father. To Andrei they are not separate from him. He explains his philosophy to Pierre.

He contradicts Pierre's beliefs about helping people and that there are definite evils. He believes remorse and illness are the only two evils. Otherwise, he is not equipped to define evils for anyone else. Also, he refutes Pierre's ideas of helping the poor with an age-old argument: they're animals. For them they need to work as much as he needs to think, and he couldn't trade with their labor anymore than they could for his. Educate them? What for? And hospitals? If they're lame or kept alive past their time they're a burden to the family.

Wow. Andrei's a little bitter. It all the arguments their have ever been against reform from the wealthy or powerful. Interestingly, he would like to see the peasants freed for a different reason - absolute power corrupts. If a peasant is whipped the welts heal, but those given unlimited power end up becoming "cruel, coarse, can't help themselves, and become more and more unhappy." Wow.

The chapter ends thus:

"So there is what and whom to be sorry for -- human dignity, peace of conscience, purity, and not their backs and heads, which, however much you may whip them and shave them,, will remain the same back and heads"
"No, no, a thousand times no! I'll never agree with you," said Pierre.

It looks like Andrei is following in his father's foot steps.

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