Control

Day 156 of A Year of War and Peace

atasha cannot control herself. Anatole has her upside down and inside out. So much so that her decision-making faculties are approaching Tantalusian proportions.

First, she willingly describes her relationship with Anatole as being analogous to that of the master and the slave. If history teaches us anything it is that that type of relationship is not exactly the most salubrious of associations. Yet, nevertheless, Natasha exclaims to Sonya, “Whatever he orders I will do!”

Further, Natasha refuses to consider Sonya’s rather sensible questions about Anatole. Why, Sonya wonders, does he not ask for her hand? Why the sneaking around? What if he’s a dishonorable man? Sonya’s advocacy on her behalf should, under normal circumstances, be met with some amount of gratitude. Under Anatole’s spell, however, Natasha screams that she hates Sonya.

Her decisions keep getting worse. She also replies to Marya’s letter. Only, instead of agreeing to forgive old prince Bolkonsky and work something out, she decides instead to inform Marya that she can no longer marry prince Andrei.

Natasha’s worst error in judgment comes at the end of the chapter. Here she meets with Anatole during a dinner at the Karagina’s. Sonya watches the two secretly planning something. Sonya, sensing that something is up, commits herself to guarding Natasha to make sure she doesn’t do anything that would ruin her.

In the end, however, Natasha must be responsible for Natasha. She’s clearly swept away by her emotions and that’s not exactly the ideal state of mind to be making life-altering decisions in. We’ve written previously on the benefits of distancing oneself from emotional experiences before acting upon them. We’d suggest that course of action again here.

DAILY MEDITATION

When you are struck by the impression of some pleasure, guard yourself, as with impressions generally, against being carried away by it; rather, let the matter await your leisure, and allow yourself a measure of delay.

Epictetus, Enchiridion

Try, therefore, in the first place, not to be carried away by the impression; for if you once gain time and respite, you will find it easier to control yourself.

Epictetus, Enchiridion

This is the one hundred and fifty-sixth installment in a daily, yearlong, chapter-by-chapter reading devotional and meditation on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For more information on this project please read the introduction to the series here.

I’m also very interested in hearing what you have to say about the novel. So leave a comment and let me know.

I’m on twitter and I have a webpage if you want to talk more.

For my friends and family, love. For my enemies, durian fruit.

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