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Chapter 13

  • Twenty-three soldiers, three officers, and two officials were confined in th_hed in which Pierre had been placed and where he remained for four weeks.
  • When Pierre remembered them afterwards they all seemed misty figures to hi_xcept Platon Karataev, who always remained in his mind a most vivid an_recious memory and the personification of everything Russian, kindly, an_ound. When Pierre saw his neighbor next morning at dawn the first impressio_f him, as of something round, was fully confirmed: Platon's whole figure—in _rench overcoat girdled with a cord, a soldier's cap, and bast shoes—wa_ound. His head was quite round, his back, chest, shoulders, and even hi_rms, which he held as if ever ready to embrace something, were rounded, hi_leasant smile and his large, gentle brown eyes were also round.
  • Platon Karataev must have been fifty, judging by his stories of campaigns h_ad been in, told as by an old soldier. He did not himself know his age an_as quite unable to determine it. But his brilliantly white, strong teet_hich showed in two unbroken semicircles when he laughed—as he often did—wer_ll sound and good, there was not a gray hair in his beard or on his head, an_is whole body gave an impression of suppleness and especially of firmness an_ndurance.
  • His face, despite its fine, rounded wrinkles, had an expression of innocenc_nd youth, his voice was pleasant and musical. But the chief peculiarity o_is speech was its directness and appositeness. It was evident that he neve_onsidered what he had said or was going to say, and consequently the rapidit_nd justice of his intonation had an irresistible persuasiveness.
  • His physical strength and agility during the first days of his imprisonmen_ere such that he seemed not to know what fatigue and sickness meant. Ever_ight before lying down, he said: "Lord, lay me down as a stone and raise m_p as a loaf!" and every morning on getting up, he said: "I lay down an_urled up, I get up and shake myself." And indeed he only had to lie down, t_all asleep like a stone, and he only had to shake himself, to be read_ithout a moment's delay for some work, just as children are ready to pla_irectly they awake. He could do everything, not very well but not badly. H_aked, cooked, sewed, planed, and mended boots. He was always busy, and onl_t night allowed himself conversation—of which he was fond—and songs. He di_ot sing like a trained singer who knows he is listened to, but like th_irds, evidently giving vent to the sounds in the same way that one stretche_neself or walks about to get rid of stiffness, and the sounds were alway_igh-pitched, mournful, delicate, and almost feminine, and his face at suc_imes was very serious.
  • Having been taken prisoner and allowed his beard to grow, he seemed to hav_hrown off all that had been forced upon him- everything military and alien t_imself—and had returned to his former peasant habits.
  • "A soldier on leave—a shirt outside breeches," he would say.
  • He did not like talking about his life as a soldier, though he did no_omplain, and often mentioned that he had not been flogged once during th_hole of his army service. When he related anything it was generally some ol_nd evidently precious memory of his "Christian" life, as he called hi_easant existence. The proverbs, of which his talk was full, were for the mos_art not the coarse and indecent saws soldiers employ, but those folk saying_hich taken without a context seem so insignificant, but when used appositel_uddenly acquire a significance of profound wisdom.
  • He would often say the exact opposite of what he had said on a previou_ccasion, yet both would be right. He liked to talk and he talked well,
  • adorning his speech with terms of endearment and with folk sayings whic_ierre thought he invented himself, but the chief charm of his talk lay in th_act that the commonest events—sometimes just such as Pierre had witnesse_ithout taking notice of them- assumed in Karataev's a character of solem_itness. He liked to hear the folk tales one of the soldiers used to tell o_n evening (they were always the same), but most of all he liked to hea_tories of real life. He would smile joyfully when listening to such stories,
  • now and then putting in a word or asking a question to make the moral beaut_f what he was told clear to himself. Karataev had no attachments,
  • friendships, or love, as Pierre understood them, but loved and live_ffectionately with everything life brought him in contact with, particularl_ith man—not any particular man, but those with whom he happened to be. H_oved his dog, his comrades, the French, and Pierre who was his neighbor, bu_ierre felt that in spite of Karataev's affectionate tenderness for him (b_hich he unconsciously gave Pierre's spiritual life its due) he would not hav_rieved for a moment at parting from him. And Pierre began to feel in the sam_ay toward Karataev.
  • To all the other prisoners Platon Karataev seemed a most ordinary soldier.
  • They called him "little falcon" or "Platosha," chaffed him good-naturedly, an_ent him on errands. But to Pierre he always remained what he had seemed tha_irst night: an unfathomable, rounded, eternal personification of the spiri_f simplicity and truth.
  • Platon Karataev knew nothing by heart except his prayers. When he began t_peak he seemed not to know how he would conclude.
  • Sometimes Pierre, struck by the meaning of his words, would ask him to repea_hem, but Platon could never recall what he had said a moment before, just a_e never could repeat to Pierre the words of his favorite song: native an_irch tree and my heart is sick occurred in it, but when spoken and not sung,
  • no meaning could be got out of it. He did not, and could not, understand th_eaning of words apart from their context. Every word and action of his wa_he manifestation of an activity unknown to him, which was his life. But hi_ife, as he regarded it, had no meaning as a separate thing. It had meanin_nly as part of a whole of which he was always conscious. His words an_ctions flowed from him as evenly, inevitably, and spontaneously as fragranc_xhales from a flower. He could not understand the value or significance o_ny word or deed taken separately.