Friday, October 7, 2011

The Wolf has Meaning

During the hunt of Book Seven, Chapter 5, Nicholas tries to hunt down a wolf.  Tolstoy uses a lot of metaphorical language to convey meaning in this Chapter.  He uses the Wolf as means for foreshadowing and also to allude to Nicholas' life.

Nicholas' life has recently centered around his time at war, and the hunting puts him at ease because it reminds him of it, "the cries of the dogs whose notes were familiar to him" (441).  But the wolf, whom Nicholas was hunting after, symbolizes Nicholas' future, which always runs from him.  The wolf "ran without hurry, evidently feeling sure that no one saw her" with "easy yet resolute hope" (442).  Nicholas isn't in complete control of his life; actually, he prefers it mundane and less dramatic, which is specifically why he prefers to be at the battlefields.

Nicholas couldn't even take care of his own problems, because it was Daniel who took down the wolf but it was still "the most happiest moment of [Nicholas'] life" (443).  The taking down of the wolf alludes to Nicholas' coming into power over the family's wealth.  There will be a struggle over the Old Count Rostov but due to some outside help, the wealth will be under his control, but only with the "old wolf, alive, [and gaged] on a shying snorting horse" (444).


  1. I'm glad someone posted about this, because when i was reading that passage about the wolf, I definitely lost focus. It seems like I missed a lot of the metaphor in the passage, and while I think you're taking it a little far saying that Nicolas in any way comes into power over the money (he really just makes a couple suggestions and then backs down) it is a significant parallel nonetheless.

  2. I feel that the wolf is more like the mother than it is like Nicholas. What you are arguing in this post is reasonable and to a certain extent very plausible. However, the wolf is a female, it is old and has five cubs( in my opinion an allusion to the number of kids of Countess Rostova) and is also a fighter; just as the Countess is struggling for her family, the wolf is also trying to protect her cubs, is taken aback by this attack( in real life their financial hardship) and is giving her best to survive this crisis, but is eventually defeated. In the end of Book 7, she stays at home because she is sick while her husband and the girls go to Moscow. I think Tolstoy used the wolf as a symbol for multiple things and that every reader can have a different perspective on its meaning.

  3. I agree with Iulia that the wolf represents Countess Rostov because she is an old woman with many "cubs". However, I understand where Teddy is coming from because the symbol of the old wolf tells the read that it is Nicholas' time. The old wolf's capture demonstrates that it is time for the older generation to step down and for the younger generation to flourish. In this sense, the hunting scene is the beginning of Nicholas' shift into adulthood as he is forced to become independent from his aging parents.