Use a Ruler
We all remember Dolokhov, right? Sure we do. How could we ever forget the man who chugged an entire bottle of rum while dangling unsecured from a third story window ledge, who slept with Pierre’s wife, who Pierre shot for sleeping with his wife, who baited Nikolai into losing hundreds of thousands at cards, who played a major role in the breakup of Natasha and Prince Andrei? He’s not exactly the most moral of men. And, yet, Dolokhov is the man young and foolish Petya Rostov chooses to serve today.
Once Dolokhov enters the room Petya quickly straightens his posture and holds his head high. He must not appear weak to a man of such “extraordinary bravery” — his words. Then, after Dolokhov suggests that the detachment send a small reconnaissance unit to collect more information on the French transport Petya immediately volunteers. Denisov attempts to block Petya but Petya insists. Dolokhov, a mindless and indurate man if there ever was once, accepts the unprepared neophyte’s application and then advocates slaughtering prisoners of war rather than cataloging them and sending them to headquarters.
Following this man can only lead young Petya to a dark place. A very dark place indeed.
Choose a master whose life, conversation, and soul-expressing face have satisfied you; picture him always to yourself as your protector or your pattern. For we must indeed have someone according to whom we may regulate our characters; you can never straighten that which is crooked unless you use a ruler.
Seneca, Epistle XI