Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Line Between Life and Death

Tolstoy expresses how he feels about death by showing characters at high risk of dying.  In soldiers’ encounters with the enemy, in old age, and in sickness War and Peace shows people struggling with death.  Tolstoy first introduces death, saying there is a line dividing the living and the dead.  This line is drawn on the battlefield between two opposing armies.  In this instance soldiers are aware of how easily they could end up on the wrong side of that line.  A soldier, because he is at such high risk of being killed, is forced to understand the he can die in the upcoming battle. 

Denisov gets sick and makes the reader think that he is going to die in the hospital.  He seems to have lost faith in his country and lost the will to live.  He appears later in the novel, healthy and in good spirits.  Andrew on the other hand gets sick and after a long struggle dies.  Old Bolkonsky is ready to cross the line.  He is suffering from dementia, and just wants a place to die in peace.  Unfortunately for him, he is forced to leave his home and dies uncomfortably.  Tolstoy’s killing of these characters seems unfair.

At the end of the novel some characters have died and others have remained alive.  Tolstoy seems to make the point that there is a fine line between life and death, and who lives is a matter of luck.  Denisov could easily have died and Andrew could easily have lived, but in reality the one who gets to live is random.  Tolstoy’s view on death, like his view on history, is that it is out of our control.   We can try to control when people die with the help of doctors, and by keeping our loved ones out of harm’s way, but in the end death can come to anyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment