Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Conjugate Pairs of Families in War and Peace.

While discussing War and Peace with a peer, I realized that the four major families within the novel exist in conjugate pairs: that is, each family and its values has an almost exact opposite embodied by another family. The Buzukhov family and the Rostov family are opposites, and the Kuragin family and the Bolkonski family are opposites.
The Buzukhov's embody a family on which relationships are built on money. If you love someone, you give them material things. Count Bezukhov shows his love for his son, Pierre, by including giving him the estate even though Pierre is illegitimate. The Rostov's, on the other hand, are terrible with money, but love each other immensely and show it though affection and emotional connection. Though in Russian Society "wealth is power", and we are supposed to look down on the Rostov's for their lack of financial knowledge, we can connect with the Rostov's through their obvious care for each other.
The Kuragin's, for their part, place emphasis on money, but only because it is necessary for a high status in society. They are obsessed with rank, and power, and will manipulate their way to the top. The family roles and boundaries are very unclear within their family. They are also obsessed with everything shallow and most of all, French. The Bolkonski's, on the other hand, embody Russian society. They fight some societal norms and prefer honor and integrity over rank and power. The structure of their family is very defined and almost unbreakable, in the way that there is mutual respect among them. Although within the family they are very different, they obviously care about each other, but seem unable to express it well.

1 comment:

  1. Those are extremely interesting opposite pairs. I have always considered the opposite pair of the Rostov's to be the Kuragins because the Rostov's are so full of love and the Kuragins are not, but this post helped me see how the two families are similar in the fact that they are concerned about money and status. I think it would be interesting to compare all four of these families because the Bezukovs are similar to the Bolkonskis because their family is so small and spread out.