That Pierre associates Platon Karataev with roundness is one of the great ironies of War and Peace. Platon Karataev is the least developed, least multidimensional character in a book filled with more dimensions than an LSD party thrown by the world’s wildest theoretical physicists. We meet Platon a good man and, later, sadly, we leave him a good man. This isn’t to say that Platon Karataev is a bad character. It’s just that his purpose is different from the other characters in the book. Broadly, Platon’s role is to serve as Pierre’s stoic sage during Pierre’s imprisonment, an example of how to negotiate hardship. The first lesson Platon imparts is that one must accentuate the good, even in a bad situation.
They’re definitely in a bad situation. Yet from Pierre’s observations Platon doesn’t seem to be aware of it. Platon often laughs, maintains a youthful countenance and articulates his words of wisdom in a pleasant, musical voice. For Pierre this makes Platon the “personification of everything Russian, kindly, and round.”
Their miserable journey together as prisoners of the French is just getting started. Pierre would do well to pay close attention to Platon Karataev. We all would.
It is the nature of every soul to assent to what is true and dissent from what is false, and suspend judgment in matters of uncertainty, it must be its nature likewise to be moved by desire for what is good, aversion from what is evil, and a neutral disposition towards what is neither good nor evil.
Epictetus, The Discourses