Many things happen in today’s chapter. Pierre shows up, as promised, at the Rostovs for dinner. He falls further in love with Natasha. Discussion among those gathered covers war preparation and the Emperor’s appeal. Petya Rostov, the child of the family, declares his intention to join the army just like his older brother. For our purposes, however, perhaps the most notable part of today’s chapter is how improved Natasha seems to be.
You’ll recall that after her debacle with Anatole and break up with Andrei she fell into a terrible depression. She even attempts suicide at one point. Things get so bad with her that it seemed like she would never get out of her slump. She herself didn’t think she could.
But today she greets Pierre happily. She even flirts with him a little bit. Even her father, not exactly the brightest of men, can see what’s going on. When Pierre says he has to leave the old Count refuses to let him go. “Home?” he asks, “Why, you must spend the evening with us . . . You don’t often come nowadays as it is, and this girl of mine only brightens up when you’re here.”
The reader may be tempted to think that Pierre is the reason Natasha’s spirits have improved. Pierre, however, isn’t the whole story. Remember that Pierre met with her already right after the Anatole affair. She was miserable then. That’s about the time when she attempted suicide actually.
Perhaps the true ameliorate is time. Time has passed and worked its healing magic. To heal herself Natasha has placed the bandage of distance over her wound.
The best cure . . . is waiting, to allow the first ardour to abate and to let the darkness that clouds the reason either subside or be less dense.
Seneca, On Anger III