This is Where I Leave You


Jonathan Tropper

New York Times bestseller A Plume Book 2010 339 pages

This novel had me hooked and in stitches from page one. How rare is that? The novel opens by describing the personality of the narrator’s family and how they deal with life. I could immediately relate to the crass, harsh, hilarious and real way the Foxman family does family. The patriarch has died which becomes a framing device for the story. While Dad was sick he requested the family come together and sit Shiva for seven whole days. For years they have actively avoided bonding family time and none of the four grown children are looking forward to all this togetherness. Each sibling has a lot going on including spouses and assorted lovers. We get to peek inside each life, but we are always in the head of Judd, the narrator, whose life is completely upside down. Even though the situations are not obviously funny, Tropper gives Judd such a twisted sense of humor that somehow you laugh even when you are not supposed to. On the other hand, Tropper can be very nostalgic and heart-felt when discussing family, sometimes even waxing poetic. The story is told in the present tense and is counted by the time on the clock so that, in effect, you are also sitting Shiva with the Foxmans. This novel is full of belly-laughs that will make you want to read out loud to your friends. What follows are my favorite bits (I like to call “the best bits”) and chapter summaries.

1 “If we sound like a couple of callous assholes, it’s because that’s how we were raised” (2).

“Dad didn’t believe in God, but he was a life-long member of the Church of Shit or Get Off the Can” (3).

[Story being told by Judd who has an older sister (Wendy), older brother (Paul) and younger brother, Phillip. Their dad has finally died after a long battle with stomach cancer. They will gather for the funeral. Judd has been having a tough time even aside from his father’s death.]

2 “…trying to look like someone trying not to look bored” (10).

“You get married to have an ally against your family, and now I’m heading into the trenches alone” (11).

[Judd and Jen are divorcing. They had met in college. Jen is sleeping with Judd’s boss and is pregnant. Judd and Jen were pregnant once. Still birth. You can tell Judd still loves her and is very hurt.]

3 “Because the thing of it is, no matter how much you enjoy sex, there’s something jolting and strangely disturbing about witnessing the sex of others. Nature has taken great pains to lay out the fundamentals of copulation so that it’s impossible to get a particularly good view of the sex you’re having. Because when you get right down to it, sex is a messy, gritty, often grotesque business to behold: the hairs; the abraded, dimpled flesh; the wide-open orifices; the exposed, glistening organs. And the violence of the coupling itself, primitive and elemental, reminding us that we’re all just dumb animals clinging to our spot on the food chain, eating, sleeping, and fucking as much as possible before something bigger comes along and devours us” (16-17).

[Margin note: No romanticizing here! Thank you for telling it like it is.]

“Naked men shouldn’t run” (24).

[Judd goes into gross, horrible and hilarious detail about the day he caught his wife and boss together in HIS bed. Now he lives in a cheap basement room and is somehow still spiraling downward.]

4 “…even as his ridiculous raincoat makes him stand out like a bloodstain against a sky the color of a dead tooth” (33).

[Father’s funeral.]

5 [After the funeral the extended family gather around the dinner table. Chaos ensues.]

6 [Judd recalling the first time he met Jen.]

7 “And as the room starts to fill with the first somber-faced neighbors coming to pay their respects, it becomes clear to me that the reason for filling the shiva house with visitors is most likely to prevent the mourners from tearing each other limb from limb” (63).

[In high school Judd and Alice lost their virginity to each other. Alice later married Paul and the brothers have had a rocky relationship ever since.]

8 [Judd escapes shiva for a short drive to pick Horry up from the store and take him home. Judd learns an old flame also works at the store. His interest is peaked.]

9 [First day of shiva finally ends. Judd listens to voicemails from pregnant Jen who wants to hurry along divorce proceedings.]

10 “There is nothing more pathetically optimistic than the morning erection. I am depressed, unemployed, unloved, basement-dwelling, and bereaved, but there it is, every morning like clockwork, rising up to greet the day, poking out of my fly cocksure and conspicuously useless. And every morning, I face the same choice: masturbate or urinate. It’s the one time of the day where I feel like I have options” (84).

[Judd’s relationship with his mother.]

11 [All the kids are giving Mom a “Dad” story but Judd can’t recall a time he had his dad’s undivided attention.]

12 [Mr. Applebaum is already scoping out the widow.]

13 [Judd is lonely and every woman in society has his attention.]

14 [Judd re-lives quitting his job when Wade was his manager.]

15 [Tracy is now competing with old school chums of Phillip’s. Judd puts in a good word for Horry’s independence.]

16 [Judd sees Penny who he had a thing with in college. They made a pact to marry by age 40 if they were both still single. Horry cannot live alone even though he desires independence.]

17 [Horry brought back a memory of a dog attack that Judd and Paul experienced as kids. Now Judd is dreaming about it.]

18 [Paul and Phillip finally go to blows and Jen appears out of nowhere. Will Phillip join the family business? Will Paul let him?]

19 [Judd sums up what sex is like after you’ve been married for years.]

20 “‘Please,’ she says. ‘Tell me what you’re thinking.’

“It’s an absurd request. Our minds, unedited by guilt or shame, are selfish and unkind, and the majority of our thoughts, at any given time, are not for public consumption, because they would either be hurtful or else just make us look like the selfish and unkind bastards we are. We don’t share our thoughts, we share carefully sanitized, watered-down versions of them, Hollywood adaptations of those thoughts dumbed down for the PG-13 crowd” (137).

[Jen comes to tell Judd that she is carrying HIS baby!]

21 [Judd recalling when he and Jen learned they had lost their first (and only) child. It led to the demise of their marriage.]

22 [Mom gives her input on her kids’ relationships then Paul decks Phillip to return the favor from the day before. Phillip drops the bomb about Jen being pregnant.]

23 [Judd visits Penny and they have a short skate holding hands. Phillip is cheating on Tracy. Dad’s death is starting to sink in.]

25 [Horry still has a thing for Wendy. Does she still think of him too?]

26 [Paul and his wife are trying to conceive and everyone knows it.]

27 [After a make out session with Penny in the pool, Judd calls Jen. Wade answers and doesn’t appreciate this late night call.]

28 [The crazy party in high school where Alice and Judd were going to make out but instead Judd gets kicked in the balls. Paul comes back to revenge his little brother, but Paul ends up being attacked by a guard dog owned by Judd’s attacker. The two brothers’ relationship has never been the same.]

29 “You can sit up here, feeling above it all while knowing you’re not, coming to the lonely conclusion that the only thing you can ever really know about anyone is that you don’t know anything about them at all” (188).

[Judd is accidentally electrocuted which brings forward a dad memory. He mourns with his mother.]

30 [The brothers sneak off during church service to smoke dad’s last joint. They accidentally set off the fire alarm.]

31 “Back when I lived with Jen, I had some friends. In the aftermath of our separation, Allan and Mike had met me for drinks and we’d all raised our glasses in agreement that Jen was a cheating bitch and I was the good guy here. I didn’t know it at the time, but that night was actually my good-bye party. Jen would retain custody of our friends and I’d be wordlessly discarded. A few weeks later, as I circled the multiplex parking lot, I saw Allan and Mike with their wives, leaving the theater along with Jen and Wade, all walking in standard formation, talking and laughing in the cinematic afterglow, like it had always been just so. I tried to tell myself it was simply a chance encounter, but it was clear from their body language that they were all together, and probably not for the first time. It’s a sad moment when you come to understand how truly replaceable you are. Friendship in the suburbs is wife-driven, and my friends were essentially those husbands of Jen’s friends that I could most tolerate. Now that I’d been sidelined, Wade had stepped in for me like an understudy, a small note was inserted into the program, and the show went on without missing a beat” (214-215).

[Jen wants to talk but Judd is having none of it. He makes mischief in his old house when no one is there. He is practically raped by his sister-in-law Alice who has been trying for 2 years to get pregnant with Paul. Later, Judd goes on a date with Penny and for the second time says nothing about Jen being pregnant.]

32 [Judd dreams a sweet dream of his father who heals him.]

33 [Wendy and Judd talk about life. Why did Linda (Mom’s lifelong friend) stay the night?]

34 [Old high school friends come to visit during shiva. Their lives have all turned out pretty mediocre.]

35 [Visiting high school friends prompt an impromptu batting round in the side yard where Paul hurts his ravaged shoulder and Boner gets hit in the face with a ball. Have mother and Linda been lovers for years?]

36 [Judd lets all the older women know he DOES NOT want to be set up with their daughters.]

37 “She is waiting in front of her building when we pull up, looking edible in a T-shirt, short shorts, and tennis shoes. She could be nineteen. She could be my girlfriend. We could be going out to the amusement park, where we’d kiss on the lines, hold hands on the rides, and share cotton candy. I’d win her one of those giant stuffed animals and we’d carry it around the park with us like a badge of honor. Afterward it would take up permanent residence on her pink bedspread, where she’s lie across ti while we spoke for hours on the phone” (252).

“A kid with a name tag and a digital camera asks us to pose for a picture with the cheesy plaster palace behind us. There are countless pictures of my family at various ages in just this spot. If we pulled them out of all the messy albums in the living room bookcases, you could probably track the steady growth of our family, like annual pencil marks on the wall to show how tall you’ve grown. Dad isn’t in any of the Wonderland pictures, because he was always the one taking them, with this old Yashica he’d bought when he first got married, because why the hell would he pay for a picture he could take better himself? As a matter of fact, you’d have to turn a lot of pages to find Dad in any of our albums. The inadvertent result of being the default photographer is that he was relegated to the role of a bit player in the actual recorded history of our family. There are entire years of our lives where he doesn’t appear at all” (253).

“Sometimes, contentment is a matter of will. You have to look at what you have right in front of you, at what it could be, and stop measuring it against what you’ve lost. I know this to be wise and true, just as I know that pretty much no one can do it” (255).

[The last date with Penny.]

38 [Judd is having a moment with Jen at the hospital listening to their baby’s heartbeat when Wade arrives. He ends up arguing with both Judd and Phillip who ends up decking him. A bit of vandalism meets Wade’s car before the brothers exit the parking lot.]

39 [All the brothers are feeling quite beat up by their wives. They need a night off.]

40 “He sinks his teeth into every word, and they come out chewed” (276).

[The brothers go out but it was not the bonding experience they had imagined.]

41 “Down in the basement, I wash some of Boner’s foam spray off the mirror to better study my reflection. My bottom lip is split and swollen, my eyes bleary, my cheeks pale and puffy. I look like a corpse pulled from the river a week after the suicide. It’s time for a gut check. I mean that literally. I pull off my shirt, which is caked with just enough blood and vomit to represent a much wilder night than the one I’ve had, and step back to study my torso. The overall effect does not match the image I cling to in my head. My belly is not yet what you’d call a gut, but you can see where the inevitable expansion will happen. I have no real chest to speak of; you’d miss it altogether if it weren’t for the two hairless nipples pressed on like decals. Broader shoulders would create the illusion of fitness, but I am sorely lacking in that department as well. The overall impression is lean but soft, and getting softer. This is the package, ladies. Come and get it.

“I lie down on the floor to do some sit-ups and promptly fall asleep” (285-5).

[Drunk Judd gets a punch and an apology from Wade who is leaving Jen. He just can’t do the step-father thing.]

42 [Another dream of Dad who is cradling Judd’s future baby.]

43 “The whites of his eyes are vaguely pink, like something ran in the wash” (295).

[Tracy knows it’s the end of the line with Phillip. Horry lays girls who don’t truly know him. Alice apologizes for raping Judd. Lina leaves after a heated argument.]

44 [Mom comes out of the closet.]

45 [The kids discuss their mom being bisexual.]

46 [Shiva is over. Judd drives home to a long talk with Jen. He is ready to work on forgiveness.]

47 [Mom and Linda get to tell their story. Mom was the one bringing them all together…not dad’s dying wish.]

48 [All the kids prepare to return to the lives.]

49 [Judd goes to apologize and say good-bye to Penny.]

50 [I never summarize the last chapter. That is a prompt to go read the book yourself!]

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession


Allison Hoover Bartlett

Riverhead Books  New York  2009

262 pages excluding notes

I like the way Bartlett sets up the story. She speaks directly to her audience and first describes what made her interested in tracking a rare books thief. It sounds almost like she is setting up a master’s thesis; she first states her driving curiosity and why which sets us on a journey together. The language is straightforward yet sometimes repetitive. She narrows in on a notorious rare book thief named John Gilkey whom she interviews multiple times. She gets to know him and tries to figure out his motivations. I did not feel the need to summarize every chapter, but there were some quotes and reflections on the love of books themselves which I really enjoyed. What follows are the quotes and reflections Bartlett used that captured my attention. If you are a book fanatic, you will enjoy this read. Numbers at the beginning of an entry indicate the chapter followed by the chapter title. My own reflections I will place in brackets.

[Dude! You are not going to believe this!]:

From Anathema in a medieval manuscript from the Monastery of San Pedro in Barcelona:

For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner…let him be struck with palsy, & all his members belated…Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him forever.

[So badass]

From A. S. W. Rosenback, twentieth-century book dealer:

I have known men to hazard their fortunes, go long journeys halfway about the world, forget friendships, even lie, cheat, and steal, all for the gain of a book.

[The book begins with a story of a borrowed book: the Krautterbuch. Referring to the book, Bartlett writes]:

My favorite remedy, though, is for low spirits. “Often we are missing the right kind of happiness, and if we don’t have any wine yet, we will be very content when we do get wine” (4).

[Prologue summary:

Introduction of the Krautterbuch, a book from the 1600s which was supposedly stolen from a library. The author speaks in first person and explains how this book set her on a journey.]

1  Like a Moth to a Flame

[This passage brought a tear to my eye because it so accurately describes the magic of becoming attached to a book.]

Walking by a booth with an impressive selection of dust jacket art, I heard a dealer say to a passerby, “don’t judge a book by its content!” I had read enough about book collectors before the fair to get the joke: Many collectors don’t actually read their books. At first, I was surprised, but having given it some thought, it’s not so shocking. After all, much of the fondness avid readers, and certainly collectors, have for their books is related to the books’ physical bodies. As much as they are vessels for stories (and poetry, reference information, etc.), books are historical artifacts and repositories for memories–we like to recall who gave books to us, where we were when we read them, how old we were, and so on.

For me, the most important book-as-object from my childhood is Charlotte’s Web, the first book I mail-ordered after joining a book club. I still remember my thrill at seeing the mailman show up with it at our front door on a sunny Saturday morning. It has a crisp paper jacket, unlike the plastic-covered library books I was used to, and the way the pages parted, I could tell I was the first to open it. For several days I lived in Wilbur’s world, and the only thing as sad as Charlotte’s death, maybe even sadder, was that I had come to the end of the book. I valued that half-dream state of being lost in a book so much that I limited the number of pages I let myself read each day in order to put off the inevitable end, my banishment from that world. I still do this. It doesn’t make sense, though, because the pleasure of that world does not really end for good. You can always start over on page one–and you can remember. Whenever I have spotted my old Charlotte’s Web (on my son’s shelf, then my daughter’s), I have recalled how it came to me. It’s a personal record of one chapter of my life, just as other chapters have other books I associate with them. The pattern continues; my daughter returned from camp last summer with her copy of Motherless Brooklyn in a state approaching ruin. She told me she’s dropped it into a creek, but couldn’t bear to leave it behind, even after she’d finished it. This book’s body is inextricably linked to her experience of reading it. I hope that she continues to hold on to it, because as long as she does, its wavy, expanded pages will remind her of the hot day she read it with her feet in the water–and of the fourteen-year-old she was at the time. A book is much more than a delivery vehicle for its contents, and from my perspective, this fair was a concentrated celebration of that fact.

[The author is most interested in the type of book thief that steals for the love of books. Gilkey is notorious. He says he will tell his story from prison.]

2  Half-truths

[The author’s first interview with Gilkey.]

3  Richie Rich

[Gilkey sees his book collection as a representation of himself. He wants to appear rich and cultured. He wants people to be impressed.]

4  A Gold Mine

5  Spider-Man

6  Happy New Year

7  Trilogy of Kens

In 1644, John Milton wrote: “For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.”

8  Treasure Island

9  Brick Row

10  Not Giving Up

11  This Call May Be Recorded or Monitored

Of having taken their lives, he said, “Every man must die, sooner or later, but good books must be conserved.”

12  What More Could I Ask?

13  And Look: More Books!

14  The Devil’s Walk


From Warning written by medieval German scribe:

This book belongs to none but me

For there’s my name inside to see.

To steal this book, if you should try,

It’s by the throat that you’ll hang high.

And ravens then will gather ‘bout

To find your eyes and pull them out.

And when you’re screaming

“Oh, Oh, Oh!”

Remember, you deserved this woe.

[Man, these medieval book lovers were not playing.]

Ordinary People

by Judith Guest Ballantine Books New York 1976

This is a classic and an easy read with short chapters. The writing is not flowery or dreamy although when someone is experiencing disordered thinking the writing reflects what that might look like with few punctuation marks and fragments of sentences. The story deals with difficult family issues. The story and emotions are realistic. There are no easy answers if there are any answers at all. We learn that parental love can come in many forms, but it can also not be shown at all. Accidents happen, emotions and behaviors become twisted, people lose their shit and those around them don’t know what to do with that lost shit. Trigger warning issues of accidental death, suicide and mental institutions.

What follows is a plot summary excluding the epilogue; that’s for you to get to. The numbers indicate the chapter.

1 We meet young Conrad Jarrett fresh out of the mental facility and having trouble starting his day.

2 Calvin Jarrett is the father. Being abandoned as a child makes it even more difficult for him to parent a teen with mental illness. (The chapters alternate between these two characters’ points of view. The novel is written, interestingly, in the present tense.)

3 We learn about Conrad’s school life. All his friends are seniors but due to his illness he is still a junior. He has trouble feeling normal although he is trying to get back to his old routine.

4 Calvin doesn’t think it wise to go on their annual Christmas vacation. He doesn’t want any trouble. We learn that another son, Jordan, (older brother to Conrad) is now deceased.

5 Conrad sees a crazy local psychiatrist who appears inept. Conrad says his older brother died in a boating accident.

6 Calvin, the dad, seems every bit as lost as his mentally ill son. He has no idea who he is or what he wants.

7 Conrad attempts an afternoon date with Karen, a girl from the mental facility. She doesn’t feel mentally safe and leaves quickly.

8 Calvin drinks quite a bit. The neighbors are curious about Conrad’s situation. Beth (Conrad’s mother/Calvin’s wife) doesn’t want to discuss the topic at parties (or generally in public). Calvin misses hearing both sons in the house. We learn Conrad has slit his wrists.

9 Conrad is actually getting something out of seeing this wacky psychiatrist, Dr. Berger.

10 Conrad quits the swim team; he doesn’t like those people. They are too mean and he is too sensitive; too raw.

11 Calvin thinking about his law partner’s life and marriage.

12 Conrad successfully visits with a cute girl. He recalls a ski trip with his brother.

13 Beth finds out Conrad quit the swim team from an outside source. He quit a month ago and his parents didn’t know. There is a big family freak out. Conrad feels his mother hates him.

14 Dr. Berger’s genius is slowly being revealed.

15 Instead of talking about their grief, Calvin and Beth simply fight.

16 Conrad gets his looks complimented. He is starting to gain positive momentum. His psychiatrist is very helpful.

17 Calvin is now the one seeking Dr. Berger’s help.

18 Bumbling through exams and asking out girls.

19 Calvin’s business partner is worried about him.

20 Conrad’s date goes well. They set up another for the following weekend.

21 Calvin evaluates his fears and how he is most motivated to be safe.

22 Conrad gets in a fist fight with an asshole in the school parking lot.

23 Conrad tells his dad about the fight. Mom doesn’t even notice Conrad is waiting up for Dad.

24 Conrad’s new girlfriend is experiencing family drama. His own parents are out of town and he has to stay with his grandparents. His grandmother is a ball buster. (You can see where his mom gets it.)

25 Calvin and Beth on vacation at her brother’s place in Texas.

26 Karen is a girl Conrad was in treatment with. She has killed herself. This sends Conrad into a tailspin thinking about his brother dying on the lake and about electric shock therapy in treatment. He calls his psychiatrist and is driving to see him.

27 Conrad has a bad night but he makes it through.

28 Calvin and Beth can’t get through a vacation without fighting. Beth feels her son cut his wrists to show HER how much he hates her.

29 Everyone seems relieved to be home again.

30 Conrad has a girlfriend and they can discuss important things.

31 Calvin and Conrad discuss Beth and her leaving them. There are no clear answers and they’ll just have to be okay with that.


Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

by bell hooks

Routledge New York 1994

All text is directly quoted. Parts of separate paragraphs will appear together if they share the same page. Ellipses used to show words at the beginning of the sentence were not included. A page number behind the text indicates the page on which the quote can be found. New pages begin with an indent. I have included notes I marked in the margin.

Paulo Freire wrote, “…in gratitude for all the times we start over–begin again–renew our joy in learning.   …to begin always anew, to make, to reconstruct, and to not spoil, to refuse to bureaucratize the mind, to understand and to live life as a process–live to become…”

Introduction: Teaching to Transgress

To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone. Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself. 3

…taught me the difference between education as the practice of freedom and education that merely strives to reinforce domination. 4 [Margin note: desegregation as a negative]

The vast majority of our professors lacked basic communication skills, they were not self-actualized, and they often used the classroom to enact rituals of control that were about domination and the unjust exercise of power. 5

…the classroom should be an exciting place…sometimes even ‘fun’… To enter classroom settings in colleges and universities with the will to share the desire to encourage excitement, was to transgress…there could never be an absolute set agenda governing teaching practices. Agendas had to be flexible, had to allow for spontaneous shifts in direction…this excitement could co-exist with and even stimulate serious intellectual and/or academic engagement. 7

But excitement about ideas was not sufficient to create an exciting learning process. As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence. Since the vast majority of students learn through conservative, traditional educational practices and concern themselves only with the presence of the professor, any radical pedagogy must insist that everyone’s presence is acknowledged. That insistence cannot be simply stated. It has to be demonstrated through pedagogical practices. To begin, the professor must genuinely value everyone’s presence. There must be an ongoing recognition that everyone influences the classroom dynamic, that everyone contributes. These contributions are resources. Used constructively they enhance the capacity of any class to create an open learning community. Often before this process can begin there has to be some deconstruction of the traditional notion that only the professor is responsible for classroom dynamics. That responsibility is relative to status. Indeed, the professor will always be more responsible because the larger institutional structures will always ensure that accountability for what happens in the classroom rests with the teacher. It is rare that any professor, no matter how eloquent a lecturer, can generate through his or her actions enough excitement to create an exciting classroom. Excitement is generated through collective effort. 8 [Margin note: For excitement to happen a community must exist.]

…To emphasize that the pleasure of teaching is an act of resistance countering the overwhelming boredom, uninterest, and apathy that so often characterize the way professors and students feel about teaching and learning, about the classroom experience. 10

…undermine the insistence that engaged pedagogy recognize each classroom as different, that strategies must constantly be changed, invented, reconceptualized to address each new teaching experience. Teaching is a performative act. And it is that aspect of our work that offers the space for change, invention, spontaneous shifts, that can serve as a catalyst drawing out the unique elements in each classroom. To embrace the performative aspect of teaching we are compelled to engage ‘audiences,’ to consider issues of reciprocity. Teachers are not performers in the traditional sense of the word in that our work is not meant to be a spectacle. Yet it is meant to serve as a catalyst that calls everyone to become more and more engaged, to become active participants in learning. To teach in varied communities not only our paradigms must shift but also the way we think, write, speak. The engaged voice must never be fixed and absolute but always changing, always evolving in dialogue… 11 [I have always maintained that teaching relies heavily on performance art.]

Chapter One  Engaged Pedagogy

Education is the practice of freedom. Everyone in the room should claim knowledge and engage in “praxis”–action and reflection upon the world in order to change it. Link awareness with practice. 14

Striving not just for knowledge in books, but knowledge about how to live in the world. Acknowledge a connection between ideas learned in university settings and those learned in life practices. Create participatory spaces for the sharing of knowledge. Emphasizes well-being. Teachers must be actively committed to a process of self-actualization that promotes their own well-being if they are to teach in a manner that empowers students. Thich Nhat Hanh said “The practice…should be directed toward his or herself first, because if the helper is unhappy, he or she cannot help many people. 15

There is a connection between life practices, habits of being, and the roles of professor. The idea of the intellectual questing for a union of mind, body and spirit. 16

Education connects the will to know with the will to become. Hope that the knowledge received in these settings will enrich and enhance them. Want education that is healing to the uninformed, unknowing spirit. They do want knowledge that is meaningful. They rightfully expect that my colleagues and I will not offer them information without addressing the connection between what they are learning and their overall life experiences. It allows students to assume responsibility for their choices. 19

Through critical thinking–a process he learned by reading theory and actively analyzing texts–Gary experienced education as the practice of freedom. My voice is not the only account of what happens in the classroom. Engaged pedagogy necessarily values student expression. 20

When education is the practice of freedom, students are not the only ones who are asked to share, to confess. A place where teachers grow, and are empowered by the process. That empowerment cannot happen if we refuse to be vulnerable while encouraging students to take risks. I do not expect students to take any risks that I would not take, to share in any way that I would not share. Productive if professors take the first risk, linking confessional narratives to academic discussions so as to show how experience can illuminate and enhance our understanding of academic material. Practice being vulnerable in the classroom, being wholly present in mind, body, and spirit. 21

Chapter Two  A Revolution of Values:  The Promise of Multicultural Change

Capitalism requires the existence of a mass underclass of surplus labor. 29

[Margin note: multicultural does not exactly equal peaceful.] We cannot despair when there is conflict. Our solidarity must be affirmed by shared belief in a spirit of intellectual openness that celebrates diversity, welcomes dissent, and rejoices in collective dedication to truth. 33

Chapter Three  Embracing Change:  Teaching in a Multicultural World

There is no one way to approach a subject–only multiple ways and multiple references 36

Making the classroom a democratic setting where everyone feels a responsibility to contribute is a central goal of transformative pedagogy. 39

Feeling of community creates a sense that there is shared commitment and a common good that binds us. Recognize the value of each individual voice. 40

To hear each other is an exercise in recognition. No student remains invisible in the classroom. Different “cultural codes.” I have to learn these codes, and so do the students. Often, professors and students have to learn to accept different ways of knowing, new epistemologies, in the multicultural setting. 41

In the transformed classroom there is often a much greater need to explain philosophy, strategy, intent than in the “norm” setting. Moving away from the need for immediate affirmation was crucial to my growth as a teacher. Takes time for students to experience that challenge as positive. Necessary to practice compassion. 42

Some degree of pain involved in giving up old ways of thinking and knowing and learning new approaches. Shifting paradigms and talk about the discomfort it can cause. New ways of knowing may create estrangement where there was none. Practice at integrating theory and practice: ways of knowing with habits of being. 43

Chapter Four: Paulo Freire

A change in attitude can be significant for colonized/oppressed people. 47

Action and reflection. “Praxis”:acts by individuals not in our daily lives. Day to day we live out what we affirm. Our lives must be a living example of our politics. 48

The experience of black people, black females, might tell us more about the experience of women in general than simply an analysis that looks first, foremost, and always at those women who reside in privileged locations. 53

Those who help and those who are being helped help each other simultaneously–can the act of helping become free from the distortion in which the helper dominates the helped. 54

Chapter Five  Theory as Liberatory Practice

[Margin note: Naming] The privileged act of naming often affords those in power access to modes of communication and enables them to project an interpretation, a definition, a description of their work and actions, that  may not be accurate, that may obscure what is really taking place. 62

[Margin note: Totally] The production of an intellectual class hierarchy where the only work deemed truly theoretical is work that is highly abstract, jargonistic, difficult to read, and containing obscure references. Any theory that cannot be shared in everyday conversation cannot be used to educate the public. 64

[Margin note: Matter of fact, I believe many scholarly writers use the above-mentioned tools to such a degree that not only do they not want others to truly understand what they are saying, I begin to wonder if the authors themselves have a clear notion of what they are describing. It seems they spin word webs so dense that they can’t be criticized because no one can figure out what they are saying. In this way, dense academic writing becomes an exercise in ego for the author while being useless to the audience.]

My decisions about writing style, about not using conventional academic formats, are political decisions motivated by the desire to be inclusive, to reach as many readers as possible in as many different locations. 71

Chapter Six  Essentialism and Experience

Growing body of work by black feminist critics–particularly literary criticism… 80

While I, too, critique the use of essentialism and identity politics as a strategy for exclusion or domination, I am suspicious when theories call this practice harmful as a way of suggesting that it is a strategy only marginalized groups employ. My suspicion is rooted in the awareness that a critique of essentialism that challenges only marginalized groups to interrogate their use of identity politics or an essentialist standpoint as a means of exerting coercive power leaves unquestioned the critical practices of other groups who employ the same strategies in different ways and whose exclusionary behavior may be firmly buttressed by institutionalized structures of domination that do not critique or check it. At the same time, I am concerned that critiques of identity politics not serve as the new, chic way to silence students from marginal groups. 82-3

The assertion of an excluding essentialism on the part of students from marginalized groups can be a strategic response to domination and to colonization, a survival strategy that may indeed inhibit discussion even as it rescues those students from negation. 83

When I teach Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in introductory courses on black women writers, I assign students to write an autobiographical paragraph about an early racial memory. Each person reads that paragraph aloud to the class. Our collective listening to one another affirms the value and uniqueness of each voice. This exercise highlights experience without privileging the voices of students from any particular group. It helps create a communal awareness of the diversity of our experiences and provides a limited sense of the experiences that may inform how we think and what we say. Since this exercise makes the classroom a space where experience is valued, not negated or deemed meaningless, students seem less inclined to make the telling of experience that site where they compete for voice, in indeed such a competition is taking place. In our classroom, students do not usually feel the need to compete because the concept of a privileged voice of authority is deconstructed by our collective critical practice. 84

I most often see and experience the way the telling of personal experience is incorporated into classrooms in ways that deepen discussion. And I am most thrilled when the telling of experience links discussions of facts or more abstract constructs to concrete reality. 86

Henry Giroux: pedagogy suggests that ‘the notion of experience has to be situated within a theory of learning.’ Giroux suggests that professors must learn to respect the way students feel about their experiences as well as their need to speak about them in classroom settings: ‘You can’t deny that students have experiences and you can’t deny that these experiences are relevant to the learning process even though you might say these experiences are limited, raw, unfruitful or whatever. Students have memories, families, religions, feelings, languages and cultures that give them a distinctive voice. We can critically engage that experience and we can move beyond it. But we can’t deny it.’ Usually it is in a context where the experiential knowledge of students is being denied or negated that they may feel most determined to impress upon listeners both its value and its superiority to other ways of knowing. Identity politics emerges out of the struggles of oppressed or exploited groups to have a standpoint on which to critique dominant structures, a position that gives purpose and meaning to struggle. 88

I share with the class my conviction that if my knowledge is limited, and if someone else brings a combination of facts and experience, then I humble myself and respectfully learn from those who bring this great gift. I can do this without negating the position of authority professors have, since fundamentally I believe that combining the analytical and experiential is a richer way of knowing. 89

[Margin note: The following makes a good point regarding me, a white woman, not often given the chance to teach African American literature (although I have a teaching certificate in the topic). I can have a level of expertise in the topic, yet I do not have the lived experience of a black life.]  For example, I am disturbed when all the courses on black history or literature at some colleges and universities are taught solely by white people, not because I think that they cannot know these realities but that they know them differently. Truthfully, if I had been given the opportunity to study African American critical thought from a progressive black professor instead of the progressive white woman with whom I studied as a first-year student, I would have chosen the black person. Although I learned a great deal from this white woman professor, I sincerely believe that I would have learned even more from a progressive black professor, because this individual would have brought to the class that unique mixture of experiential and analytical ways of knowing–that is, a privileged standpoint. It cannot be acquired through books or even distanced observation and study of a particular reality. To me this privileged standpoint does not emerge from the ‘authority of experience’ but rather from the passion of experience, the passion of remembrance. 90

What would be lost in the transmission is the spirit that orders those words, that testifies that, behind them–underneath, every where–there is a lived reality. When I use the phrase ‘passion of experience,’ it encompasses many feelings but particularly suffering. For there is a particular knowledge that comes from suffering. It is a way of knowing that is often expressed through the body, what it knows, what has been deeply inscribed on it through experience. This complexity of experience can rarely be voiced and named from a distance. It is a privileged location, even as it is not the only or even always the most important location from which one can know. In the classroom, I share as much as possible the need for critical thinkers to engage multiple locations, to address diverse standpoints, to allow us to gather knowledge fully and inclusively. 91

Chapter Seven  Holding My Sister’s Hand: Feminist Solidarity

[Margin note page 100: Many white women don’t like white women either; sometimes for these same reasons!] White women were more willing to ‘hear’ another white woman talk about racism, yet it is their inability to listen to black women that impedes feminist progress. 102

…apparent abdication of interest in forging sisterhood, even though white women now show interest in racial issues. It seems at times as though white feminists working in the academy have appropriated discussions of race and racism, while abandoning the effort to construct a space for sisterhood, a space where they could examine and change attitudes and behavior towards black women and all women of color. 103

…white women ignore the relative absence of black women’s voices, either in the construction of new feminist theory or at feminist gatherings. 104

Fear and anger about appropriation, as well as concern that we not be complicit in reproducing servant-served relationships, have led black women to withdraw from feminist settings where we must have extensive contact with white women. Withdrawal exacerbates the problem: it makes us complicit in a different way. 105

Often black women do not respond to friendly overtures by white women for fear that they will be betrayed, that at some unpredictable moment the white woman will assert power. 107

…we must have more written work and oral testimony documenting ways barriers are broken down, coalitions formed, and solidarity shared. If revitalized feminist movements is to have a transformative impact on women, then creating a context where we can engage in open critical dialogue with one another, where we can debate and discuss without fear of emotional collapse, where we can hear and know one another in the difference and complexities of our experience. When we create this woman space where we can value difference and complexity, sisterhood based on political solidarity will emerge. 110

Chapter 8  Feminist Thinking: In the Classroom Right Now

[Margin note:Teach students to control their responses so others can freely express.] Confronting one another across differences means that we must change ideas about how we learn; rather than fearing conflict we have to find ways to use it as a catalyst for new thinking, for growth. Black students often bring this positive sense of challenge, of rigorous inquiry to feminist studies. 113

…teaching larger numbers of black male students, many of whom are not aware of the ways sexism informs how they speak and interact to a group setting. They face challenges to behavior patterns they may have never before thought important to question.  114

…the reasons it is difficult for black men to deal with sexism, the primary one being that they are accustomed to thinking of themselves in terms of racism, being exploited and oppressed. Since it is difficult for many black men to give voice to the ways they are hurt and wounded by racism, it is also understandable that it is difficult for them to “own up to” sexism, to be accountable. 116

Everyone in the group expressed the fear that a commitment to feminist politics would lead them to be isolated. …the feeling of the group was that studying feminist work, seeing an analysis of gender from a feminist standpoint was a way ot understand black experience, was necessary for the collective development of black consciousness, for the future of black liberation struggle. …once you learn to look at yourself criticall, you look at everything around you with new eyes. 117

Everyone agreed with Carolyn that black women who “get it together,” who deal with sexism and racism, develop important strategies for survival and resistance that need to be shared within black communities, especially since (as they put it) the black woman who gets past all this and discovered herself “holds the key to liberation.”  118

Chapter Nine   Feminist Scholarship: Black Scholars

…they talked about the status and experiences of “women” when they were only referring to white women. …black gender relations were constructed to maintain black male authority even if they did not mirror white paradigms, or about the way white female identity and status was different from that of black women. Scholars usually talked about black experience when they were really speaking solely about black male experience. 120

…racist and sexist biases shaped and informed all scholarship dealing with black experience, with female experience. It was clear that these biases had created a circumstance where there was little or no information about the distinct experiences of black women.  This acceptance came only when white women began to show an interest in issues of race and gender. …the erasure of black female presence. Again and again black female activists, scholars, and writers found ourselves isolated within feminist movement and often the targets of misguided white women who were threatened by all attempts to deconstruct the category “woman” or to bring a discourse on race into feminist scholarship. 121

For the most part, black folks, along with many white women, were suspicious of black women who were committed to feminist politics. Though this strategy was necessary for us to gain a hearing, an audience, it meant that we were not concentrating our energies on creating a climate where we could focus intensively on creating a body of scholarship that would look at black experience from a feminist standpoint. By focusing so much attention on racism within feminist movement, or proving to black audiences that a system of gender inequality permeated black life, we did not always direct our energies towards inviting other black folks to see feminist thinking as a standpoint that could illuminate and enhance our intellectual understanding of black experience. It seemed that individual black women active in feminist politics were often caught between a rock and a hard place. 122

…few black folks were willing to engage that dimension of feminist thought that insisted that sexism and institutionalized patriarchy indeed provide black men with forms of power, however relative, that remained intact despite racist oppression. …black women and women of color who dared to challenge the universalization of the category “woman” created a revolution in feminist scholarship.  123

Currently, many more white women than black women do scholarship from a feminist standpoint that includes race. 124

Even thought individual black scholars still choose to do this work, and more recent graduate students dare to place their work in a feminist context, the lack of collective support has resulted in a failure to create the very education for critical consciousness that would teach unknowing black folks why it is important to examine black life from a feminist standpoint. 127

Chapter Ten  Building a Teaching Community: A Dialogue

…it is crucial that critical thinkers who want to change our teaching practices talk to one another, collaborate in a discussion that crosses boundaries and creates a space for intervention.  129

If we really want to create a cultural climate where biases can be challenged and changed, all border crossings must be seen as valid and legitimate.  131

I feel that one of the things blocking a lot of professors from interrogating their own pedagogical practices is that fear that ‘this is my identity and I can’t question that identity.  135

Jane Gallop and Shoshana Felman–have tried to write about the presence of the teacher as a body in the classroom, the presence of the teacher as someone who has a total effect on the development of the student, not just an intellectual effect but an effect on how that student perceives reality beyond the classroom.  137

Ron Scapp: As people move around it becomes more evident that we work in the classroom. For some teachers, and especially older faculty, there is a desire to enjoy the privilege of appearing not to work in the classroom. It’s odd in and of itself, but it’s particularly ironic since faculty members congregate outside the classroom and talk endlessly about how hard they’re working.

bell hooks: We must return ourselves to a state of embodiment in order to deconstruct the way power has been traditionally orchestrated in the classroom, denying subjectivity to some groups and according it to others. 139

Ron Scapp: This seems especially so with issues of race. Many of us want to act as though race doesn’t matter, that we are here for what’s interesting in the mind, that history doesn’t matter even if you’ve been screwed over, or your parents were immigrants or the children of immigrants who have labored for forty years and have nothing to show for it. Recognition of that must be suspended; and the rationale for this erasure is that logic which says, ‘What we do here is science, what we do here is objective history.’  140

Bh: Again and again, you and I are saying that different, more radical subject matter does not create a liberatory pedagogy, that a simple practice like including personal experience may be more constructively challenging than simply changing the curriculum. One of the ways you can be written off quickly as a professor by colleagues who are suspicious of progressive pedagogy is to allow your students, or yourself, to talk about experience; sharing personal narratives yet linking that knowledge with academic information really enhances our capacity to know.

RS: When one speaks from the perspective of one’s immediate experiences, something’s created in the classroom for students, sometimes for the very first time. Focusing on experience allows students to claim a knowledge base from which they can speak.  148

Bh: …teach students how to listen, how to hear one another.

            RS: I see it as a fundamental responsibility of the teacher to show by example the ability to listen to others seriously.  150

Bh: …when students share experiences in conjunction with academic subject matter…Once the space for dialogue is open in the classroom, that moment must be orchestrated so that you don’t get bogged won with people who just like to hear themselves talk, or with people who are unable to relate experience to the academic subject matter. At times I need to interrupt students and say, ‘That’s interesting, but how does that relate to the novel we’re reading?’

RS: Yet one can be critical and be respectful at the same time. One can interrupt someone, and still have a serious, respectful dialogue.  151

Bh: The bottom-line assumption has to be that everyone in the classroom is able to act responsibly. That has to be the starting point–that we are able to act responsibly together to create a learning environment.

Along with them I grow intellectually, developing sharper understandings of how to share knowledge and what to do in my participatory role with students.

…our purpose is to be…a community of learners together. It positions me as a learner. But I’m also not suggesting that I don’t have more power. And I’m not trying to say we’re all equal here. I’m trying to say that we are all equal here to the extent that we are equally committed to creating a learning context.

RS: The power of the liberatory classroom is in fact the power of the learning process, the work we do to establish a community.  153

Bh: …our purpose here isn’t really to feel good. Maybe we enjoy certain classes, but it will usually be difficult. We have to learn how to appreciate difficulty, too, as a stage in intellectual development…there is integrity to be found in grappling with difficult material.

RS: …joy can be present along with hard work. …possibility of joy. Nor does it deny the reality that learning can be painful. Not all pain is harm, and not all pleasure is good.  154

Bh: When we bring our passion to the classroom our collective passions come together, and there is often an emotional response, one that can overwhelm.  155

RS: To focus on covering material precisely is one way to slip back into a banking system. That often happens when teachers ignore the mood of the class, the mood of the season, even the mood of the building. The simple act of recognizing a mood and asking ‘What’s this about?’ can awaken an exciting learning process.  156

Bh: A more flexible grading process must go hand in hand with a transformed classroom. …I want them to think, ‘What I’m here for is to work with material, and to work with it the best way that I can. And in doing that I don’t have to be fearful about my grade, because if I am working the best I can with this material, I know it’s going to be reflected in my grade.’ I try to communicate that the grade is something they can control by their labor in the classroom.  157

It invites us always to be in the present, to remember that the classroom is never the same. …the engaged classroom is always changing. When the classroom is truly engaged, it’s dynamic. It’s fluid. It’s always changing.  158

…I couldn’t do it alone, that forty other people were also in there.  159 [Margin note: That’s why I need summers off!] RS: Engaged pedagogy is physically exhausting!  160

Chapter 11  Language: Teaching New Worlds/New Words

…standard English, of learning to speak against black vernacular, against the ruptured and broken speech of a dispossessed and displaced people. Standard English is not the speech of exile. It is the language of conquest and domination; in the United States, it is the mask which hides the loss of so many tongues, all those sounds of diverse, native communities we will never hear, the speech of the Gullah, Yiddish, and so many other unremembered tongues.  168

For in the incorrect usage of words, in the incorrect placement of words, was a spirit of rebellion that claimed language as a site of resistance. Using English in a way that ruptured standard usage and meaning, so that white folks could often not understand black speech, made English into more than the oppressor’s language. An unbroken connection exists between the broken English of the displaced, enslaved African and the diverse black vernacular speech black folks use today. In both cases, the rupture of standard English enabled and enables rebellion and resistance. By transforming the oppressor’s language, making a culture of resistance, black people created an intimate speech that could say far more than was permissible within the boundaries of standard English. The power of this speech is not simply that it enables resistance to white supremacy, but that it also forges a space for alternative cultural production and alternative epistemologies–different ways of thinking and knowing that were crucial to creating a counter-hegemonic worldview. It is absolutely essential that the revolutionary power of black vernacular speech not be lost in contemporary culture. That power resides in the capacity of black vernacular to intervene on the boundaries and limitations of standard English. 170-1

Not surprisingly, when students in my Black Women Writers class began to speak using diverse language and speech, white students often complained. This seemed to be particularly the case with black vernacular. It was particularly disturbing to the white students because they could hear the words that were said but could not comprehend their meaning. Pedagogically, I encouraged them to think of the moment of not understanding what someone says as a space to learn. Such a space provides not only the opportunity to listen without “mastery,” without owning or possessing speech through interpretation, but also the experience of hearing non-English words. These lessons seem particularly crucial in a multicultural society that remains white superemacist, that uses standard English as a weapon to silence and censor. 172

That the students in the course on black women writers were repressing all longing to speak in tongues other than standard English without seeing this repression as political was an indication of the way we act unconsciously, in complicity with a culture of domination. 173

[Margin notes show a heart; I love this next passage]     At a lecture where I might use Southern black vernacular, the particular patois of my region, or where I might use very abstract thought in conjunction with plain speech, responding to a diverse audience, I suggest that we do not necessarily need to hear and know what is stated in its entirety, that we do not need to “master” or conquer the narrative as a whole, that we may know in fragments. I suggest that we may learn from spaces of silence as well as spaces of speech, that in the patient act of listening to another tongue we may subvert that culture of capitalist frenzy and consumption that demands all desire must be satisfied immediately, or we may disrupt that cultural imperialism that suggests one is worthy of being heard only if one speaks in standard English. 174

Chapter Twelve  Confronting Class in the Classroom

Significantly, class differences are particularly ignored in classrooms. 177

…class was more than just a question of money, that it shaped values, attitudes, social relations, and the biases that informed the way knowledge would be given and received. It is still necessary for students to assimilate bourgeois values in order to be deemed acceptable.  Bourgeois values in the classroom create a barrier, blocking the possibility of confrontation and conflict, warding off dissent. 178

Most students are not comfortable…give voice to thoughts, ideas, feelings that go against the grain, that are unpopular. This censoring process is only one way bourgeois values overdetermine social behavior in the classroom and undermine the democratic exchange of ideas. …the absence of constructive dialogue, enforced silencing, takes place as a by-product of progressive efforts to question canonical knowledge, critique relations of domination, or subvert bourgeois class biases. 179

…silencing is “the most oppressive aspect of middle-class life.” 180

…this estrangement was in part a reflection of class difference…the constant evocation of materially privileged class experience (usually that of the middle class) as a universal norm that not only set those of us from working-class backgrounds apart but effectively excluded those who were not privileged from discussions, from social activities. 181

…class…economic standing…values, standpoint, and interests…Those of us from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds learned that no aspect of our vernacular culture could be voiced in elite settings. This was especially the case with vernacular language or a first language that was not English. To insist on speaking in any manner that did not conform to privileged class ideals and mannerisms placed one always in the position of interloper. …encouraged…to betray our class origins. [margin note: the great divide: code shifting too difficult.] 182

…encourage students to reject the notion that they must choose between experiences. They must believe they can inhabit comfortably two different worlds, but they must make each space one of comfort. They must creatively invent ways to cross borders. They must believe in their capacity to alter the bourgeois settings they enter. All too often, students from nonmaterially privileged backgrounds assume a position of passivity–they behave as victims, as though they can only be acted upon against their will. Ultimately, they end up feeling they can only reject or accept the norms imposed upon them. This either/or often sets them up for disappointment and failure. [margin note: When students don’t believe they have the ability to adapt.] Yet those of us from working-class backgrounds cannot allow class antagonism to prevent us from gaining knowledge, degrees and enjoying the aspects of higher education that are fulfilling. 183

[margin note: The goal] Create a context for critical thinking, for dialectical exchange. 184

…willing to interrogate the way our presentation of self as well as our pedagogical process is often shaped by middle-class norms. {solution} …learning communities where everyone’s voice can be heard, their presence recognized and valued. When those of us in the academy who are working class or from working-class backgrounds share our perspectives, we subvert the tendency to focus only on the thoughts, attitudes, and experiences of those who are materially privileged. [Gaining a personal voice and p.o.v. to contribute to learning.] 185

…recognition of the uniqueness of each voice and a willingness to create spaces in the classroom where all voices can be heard because all students are free to speak, knowing their presence will be recognized and valued. I have students write short paragraphs…opportunity to pause and listen…Just the physical experience of hearing, of listening intently, to each particular voice strengthens our capacity to learn together. …engage in acts of recognition with one another, and do not just talk to the professor. Sharing experiences and confessional narratives in the classroom helps establish communal commitment to learning…usually are the space where the assumption that  we share a common class background and perspective is disrupted.  186

[Margin note: Some are more used to being loud and interrupting; others find this disruptive.] …power was not itself negative. It depended what one did with it. [Margin note: I still must maintain control of the classroom.] 187

Many of the black students feared that learning new terminology or new perspectives would alienate them from familiar social relations. Since these fears are rarely addressed as part of progressive pedagogical process, students caught in the grip of such anxiety often sit in classes feeling hostile, estranged, refusing to participate. [Margin note: Learning can be seen as a distancing from home class background.] 188

…alter our classroom practices creatively so that the democratic ideal of education for everyone can be realized. 189

Chapter Thirteen: Eros, Eroticism, and the Pedagogical Process

Sam Keen from his book The Passionate Life: When we limit “erotic” to its sexual meaning, we betray our alienation from the rest of nature. We confess that we are not motivated by anything like the mysterious force that moves birds to migrate or dandelions to spring. Furthermore, we imply that the fulfillment or potential toward which we strive is sexual–the romantic-genital connection between two persons. 195

[From a student journal] When I dance my soul is free. It is sad to read about men who stop dancing, who stop being foolish, who stop letting their souls fly free…I guess for me, surviving whole means never to stop dancing. 197

Professors are expected to publish, but no one really expects or demands of us that we really care about teaching in uniquely passionate and different ways. Teachers who love students and are loved by them are still “suspect” in the academy. Some of the suspicion is that the presence of feelings, or passions, may not allow for objective consideration of each student’s merit. To allow one’s feeling of care and will to nurture particular individuals in the classroom–to expand and embrace everyone–goes against the notion of privatized passion.  198

…the purpose of education is to show students how to define themselves “authentically and spontaneously in relation” to the world, then professors can best teach if we are self-actualized. 199

Chapter Fourteen  Ecstasy: Teaching and Learning Without Limits

She really needed to talk about her work with someone she could trust, who would not approach it with racist, sexist, or classist prejudice. ..”critical thinking” was the primary element allowing the possibility of change.  In our society…critical thinking is not encouraged. Conditions of radical openness exist in any learning situation where students and teachers celebrate their abilities to think critically, to engage in pedagogical praxis. 202

My commitment to engaged pedagogy is an expression of political activism. 203

[Margin note for following: I like this idea] Sometimes, the whole class might bring lunch and have discussion in a space other than our usual classroom. …might go as a class to the African Heritage House and have lunch, both to learn about different places on campus and gather in a setting other than our classroom. 204

…academic colleagues…so many of them willingly betrayed the promise of intellectual fellowship and radical openness that I believe is the heart and soul of learning. Engaged pedagogy not only compels me to be constantly creative in the classroom, it also sanctions involvement with students beyond their setting. When I teach, I encourage them to critique, evaluate, make suggestions and interventions as we go along. [Margin note: very helpful and must rely on flexibility.] 205

When students see themselves as mutually responsible for the development of a learning community, they offer constructive input. Commitment to engaged pedagogy carries with it the willingness to be responsible…have the power to change the direction of our students’ lives. 206

…I have sought teachers in all areas of my life who would challenge me beyond what I might select for myself, and in and through that challenge allow me a space of radical openness where I am truly free to choose–able to learn and grow without limits. 207








War and Peace

War and Peace  by  Leo Tolstoy

What follows is a listing of simple summaries for each chapter of War and Peace. The version of the text used is The Modern Library (New York) translated by Constance Garnett. 1994 Modern Library Edition. Biographical note copyright 1994 by Random House, Inc. If one has this version of the novel, they can quickly locate certain scenes or ideas by chapter summaries. The chapter summaries are indented and inside brackets. Otherwise, the use of quote marks indicates direct wording from the book so readers can view how Tolstoy uses language and to display some of the poetry of his writing. You will notice some unusual spelling which has been double checked and comes straight from Tolstoy and/or the translator. This summary is also for people who may be intimidated by the length of the book (1386 pages); they would like to see what the story is about before investing their reading time. Another nice thing to know if a reader is not sure about this undertaking is that the chapters are relatively short. You can always read just one or two chapters a day. Yes, the Russian names are difficult, but you can write down the names of the main characters and keep a list. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying a classic.



“To be enthusiastic had become her pose in society, and at times even when she had, indeed, no inclination to be so, she was enthusiastic so as not to disappoint the expectations of those who knew her.”

        [Anna Pavlovna Scherer and Prince Vassily decide to try and marry the prince Jon Anatole to a rich princess to get him out of their hair.]


        [Anna flits about the party, keeping it going like a good hostess, but is disconcerted by the presence of a “bastard” named Pierre who threatens the grace of the fete.]


“Princess Ellen smiled. She got up with the same unchanging smile of the acknowledged beauty with which she had entered the drawing room. Her white ball-dress adorned with ivy and moss rustled lightly, her white shoulders, glossy hair, and diamonds glittered, as she passed between the men who moved apart to make way for her. Not looking directly at any one, but smiling at every one, as it were courteously allowing to all the right to admire the beauty of her figure, her full shoulders, her bosom and back, which were extremely exposed in the mode of the day, she moved up to Anna Pavlovna, seeming to bring with her the brilliance of the ballroom. Ellen was so lovely that she was not merely free from the slightest shade of coquetry, she seemed on the contrary ashamed of the too evident, too violent and all-conquering influence of her beauty. She seemed to wish but to be unable to soften the effect of her beauty” (10).

        [Prince Andrey will leave his wife Princess Bolkonsky in the country while he goes to war. He knows Pierre, and they will have dinner together.]


        [Anna Mihalovna asks Prince Vassily to get her son transferred to being a guard. Her husband had gotten Vassily started. He says he will speak to the Emperor. The party debated over Napoleon.]


“‘I hope I shall see you again, but I hope too you will change your opinions, my dear Monsieur Pierre.’

He made no answer, simply bowed and displayed to every one once more his smile, which said as plainly as words: ‘Opinions or no opinions, you see what a nice, good-hearted fellow I am.’ And Anna Pavlovna and every one else instinctively felt this.”

        [Pierre needs to choose a job, but doesn’t want to fight against Napoleon, whom he admires. Prince Andrey just wants to leave, even his pregnant wife, by any means necessary.]


“In the middle of supper Prince Andrey leaned on his elbow, and like a man who has long had something on his mind, and suddenly resolves on giving it utterance, he began to speak with an expression of nervous irritation which Pierre had never seen in his friend before” (27). 

        [Pierre had promised not to go back to Anatole Kuragin’s (to Prince Andrey who said he was wasting his time there). But Pierre couldn’t resist getting drunk with the boys.]


        [As it happens, Pierre’s father is about to die and leave a vast estate to either Prince Vassily or Pierre. We don’t know which.]


[no notes]


“‘So far I have been, than God, my children’s friend and have enjoyed their full confidence,’ said the countess, repeating the error of so many parents, who imagine their children have no secrets from them” (43).

        [We are introduced to the Rostovs, their family and relations.]


        [Boris and Natasha; Nikolay and Sonya.]


        [Vera is jealous of and mean toward the two younger couples. They know she had never displayed an affection for anyone. Princess Anna Mihalovna wants to secure a piece of Prince Kirill Vladimirovitch Bezuhov’s fortune too for his son Boris.]


        [Prince Vassily isn’t too keen on godson Boris coming with his pushy mother to speak to the dying Bezuhov.]


        [Anna, Boris’s mother, got in to see the dying man. Pierre met Boris and instantly took a liking to him.]


        [Countess Rostov gave Anna Mihalovna enough for Boris to buy his guard equipment.]


        [A huge feast at the Rostov’s.]


        [The men discuss war over dinner. Nikolay will be going.]


        [Sonya is so upset that Nikolay has received his marching papers. The count dances to beat the band with Marya Dmitryevna.]


“The princess smiled, as people smile who believe that they know much more about the subject than those with whom they are talking” (77).

        [Prince Vassily speaks with his cousin Katerina Semyonovna regarding her father’s estate. Vassily believes Bezuhov has written the Emperor a letter requesting Pierre to be recognized as legitimate, thereby being able to leave him the entire estate. Now both Vassily and Katerina are agitated.]


        [Bezuhov had called Pierre to his bedside. When he arrived, all gathered began treating him different. He was treated for the first time like an heir.]


        [Last rites.]


        [We meet Prince Bolkonsky and his daughter, Marya. She receives a letter from friend Julie saying Anatole has been rumored to be her courter. Julie says hers will be Pierre.]


        [Prince Andrey has brought his pregnant wife to stay with his father and sister Marya while he is away fighting Bonaparte.]


        [The little princess got kind of the funky wangle at the first dinner with her father-in-law. He seems rather eccentric.]


        [Prince Andrey tells his father that if he dies in the war and Liza has a son, to please raise the son in his home, never lose him. Andrey leaves.]



        [Dolohov, the drunken prankster from before, is now in ranks.]


        [Dolohov is already making friends and enemies. No fighting yet.]


        [Mack, leading the allied Austrians has been defeated. The Russians will soon fight.]


        [Rostov went to visit Denisov who’d been drunk and gambling. When Telyanin came to visit, he stole Denisov’s winnings. Rostov went to retrieve it but felt such pity for a man who would steal from an acquaintance that he left Telyanin with the money.]


        [The staff captain asked Rostov to apologize to his colonel for blaming him for taking the money. Rostov refuses. Mack has surrendered, so now these boys will be sent to the front.] 


“‘Look, prince,’ said another, who would dearly have liked to take another pie, but was ashamed to, and therefore affected to be gazing at the countryside…” (147).

        [The enemy is in sight.]


        [The soldiers are all packed onto a bridge trying to get to the other side when the enemy starts firing cannonballs at them.]


        [Upon battle engagement, Rostov finds he is a coward. He only wishes to live away from all this. Even Nesvitsky the commander doesn’t like to see men going down.]


        [Prince Andrey is asked to take papers to the minister of war saying they had retreated but had gained one victory. Not many had been wounded, fewer killed. By this delivery, Andrey may get a promotion.]


“Bilibin enjoyed conversation just as he enjoyed work, only when the conversation could be elegantly witty. In society he was continually watching for an opportunity of saying something striking, and did not enter into conversation except under such circumstances. Bilibin’s conversation was continually sprinkled with original, epigrammatic, polished phrases of general interest. These phrases were fashioned in the inner laboratory of Bilibin’s mind, as though intentionally, of portable form, so that insignificant persons could easily remember them and carry them from drawing-room to drawing-room. And Bilibin’s good things were hawked about in Viennese drawing-rooms and afterwards had an influence on so-called great events” (167).

        [Andrey stays the night with dignitary Bilibin who seems unimpressed by Andrey’s news of the small victory. Vienna has now been taken by the French. Bilibin suspects secret peace negotiations.]


        [Andrey is off to meet the emperor.] 


        [A bridge has been taken by the French. The army is in trouble. Andrey hears about it and immediately prepares to go help them.]


“‘And if there’s nothing left but to die?’ he thought. ‘Well, if it must be! I will do it no worse than others’” (179).

        [Andrey returns to the front to find everything in disarray and preparing for battle. He has now returned to Kutuzov.]


        [Bagration’s men (Russian) are slowly, unknowingly to them, becoming surrounded by the French. Kutuzov is on his way.]


        [Some troops are so close to each other that they are having conversations with their enemies.]


        [Andrey is at the front making field notes while Tushin et. al. contemplate life after death.]


        [Prince Bagration remains cool under fire.]


        [Here we go…]

Footnote “This was the attack of which Thiers says: ‘The Russians behaved valiantly and, which is rare in warfare, two bodies of infantry marched resolutely upon each other, neither giving way before the other came up.’ And Napoleon on St. Helena said: ‘Some Russian battalions showed intrepidity’” (202).


“Again, as on the Enns bridge, there was no one between the squadron and the enemy, and between them lay that terrible border-line of uncertainty and dread, like the line dividing the living from the dead” (205).

“‘It must be one of ours taken prisoner…Yes. Surely they couldn’t take me too? What sort of men are they?’ Rostov was still wondering, unable to believe his own eyes. ‘Can they be the French?’ He gazed at the approaching French, and although only a few seconds before he had been longing to get at these Frenchmen and to cut them down, their being so near seemed to him now so awful that he could not believe his eyes. ‘Who are they? What are they running for? Can it be to me? Can they be running to me? And what for? To kill me? Me, whom every one’s so fond of?’ He recalled his mother’s love, the love of his family and his friends, and the enemy’s intention of killing him seemed impossible. ‘But they may even kill me.’ For more than ten seconds he stood, not moving from the spot, nor grasping his position. The foremost Frenchman with the hook nose was getting so near that he could see the expression on his face. And the excited, alien countenance of the man, who was running so lightly and breathlessly towards him, with his bayonet lowered, terrified Rostov. He snatched up his pistol, and instead of firing with it, flung it at the Frenchman and ran to the bushes with all his might. Not with the feeling of doubt and conflict with which he had moved at the Enns bridge, did he now run, but with the feeling of a hare fleeing from the dogs. One unmixed feeling of fear for his young, happy life took possession of his whole being. Leaping rapidly over the hedges with the same impetuosity with which he used to run when he played games, he flew over the field, now and then turning his pale, good-natured, youthful face, and a chill of horror ran down his spine. ‘No, better not to look,’ he thought, but as he got near to the bushes he looked round once more. The French had given it up, and just at the moment when he looked round the foremost man was just dropping from a run into a walk, and turning round to shout something loudly to a comrade behind. Rostov stopped. ‘There’s some mistake,’ he thought, ‘it can’t be that they meant to kill me.’ And meanwhile his left arm was as heavy as if a hundred pound weight were hanging on it. He could run no further. The Frenchman stopped too and took aim. Rostov frowned and ducked. One bullet and then another flew hissing by him; he took his left hand in his right, and with a last effort ran as far as the bushes. In the bushes there were Russian sharpshooters” (207).

        [Zherkov was sent to deliver a message, but when he got closer to the line of battle he chickened out and went the other way. Rostov was leading the way but before he knew it, he and his horse went down. Wounded and being chased by the enemy, Rostov ran.]


“The infantry, who had been caught unawares in the copse, had run away, and the different companies all confused together had retreated in disorderly crowds. One soldier in a panic had uttered those words–terrible in ware and meaningless: ‘Cut off!’ and those words had infected the whole mass with panic.

“‘Outflanked! Cut off! Lost!’ they shouted as they ran.

“When their general heard the firing and the shouts in the rear he had grasped at the instant that something awful was happening to his regiment; and the thought that he, an exemplary officer, who had served so many years without ever having been guilty of the slightest shortcoming, might be held responsible by his superiors for negligence or lack of discipline, so affected him that, instantly oblivious of the insubordinate cavalry colonel and his dignity as a general, utterly oblivious even of danger and of the instinct of self-preservation, he clutched at the crupper of his saddle, and spurring his horse, galloped off to the regiment under a perfect hail of bullets that luckily missed him. He was possessed by the one desire to find out what was wrong, and to help and correct the mistake whatever it might be, if it were a mistake on his part, so that after twenty-two years of exemplary service, without incurring a reprimand for anything, he might avoid being responsible for this blunder.

“Galloping successfully between the French forces, he reached the field behind the copse across which our men were running downhill, not heeding the word of command. That moment had come of moral vacillation which decides the fate of battles. Would these disorderly crowds of soldiers hear the voice of their commander, or, looking back at him, run on further? In spite of the despairing yell of the commander, who had once been so awe-inspiring to his soldiers, in spite of his infuriated, purple face, distorted out of all likeness to itself, in spite of his brandished sword, the soldiers still ran and talked together, shooting into the air and not listening to the word of command. The moral balance which decides the fate of battle was unmistakably falling on the side of panic” (208).

        [Timohin’s sharpshooters helped keep the French from dividing the troops. Dolohov caught a French officer and presented the general with the French officer’s ammunition. Tushin and his four cannons were kicking ass until he was commanded to retreat. Andrey helped get their cannons in motion.]


        [Night falls. Officers meet to discuss the action of the day. Andrey stood up for Tushin. Rostov is homesick, wounded, and wondering why he ever came to war.]



“She glanced at her niece, as though to inquire what she was to do with them. Anna Pavlovna again laid a finger on Pierre’s sleeve and said: ‘I hope you will never say in future that people are bored at my house,’ and glanced at Ellen. Ellen smiled with an air which seemed to say that she did not admit the possibility of any one’s seeing her without being enchanted. The old aunt coughed, swallowed the phlegm, and said in French that she was very glad to see Ellen; then she addressed Pierre with the same greeting and the same grimace.”

“She was, as always in the evening, wearing a dress cut in the fashion of the day, very low in the neck both in front and behind. Her bust, which had always to Pierre looked like marble, was so close to his short-sighted eyes that he could discern all the living charm of her neck and shoulders, and so near his lips that he need scarcely have stooped to kiss it. He felt the warmth of her body, the fragrance of scent, and heard the creaking of her corset as she moved. He saw not her marble beauty making up one whole with her gown; he saw and felt all the charm of her body, which was only veiled by her clothes. And having once seen this, he could not see it otherwise, just as we cannot return to an illusion that has been explained” (226-7).

        [Prince Vassily has stayed with Pierre to help him settle into his affairs. Although Vassily is not doing harm to Pierre. Vassily also benefits from the union. Pierre finally realizes everyone thinks he should marry Vassily’s daughter Ellen which at once repulses and excites him.]


“The diplomat went out of the drawing-room in dumb dejection. He felt vividly all this vanity of his diplomatic career by comparison with Pierre’s happiness” (234).

        [Even though he didn’t direct it, Pierre is married to Ellen.]


Princess Marya crossed herself, sighing, and went downstairs, without thinking of her dress nor how her hair was done; of how she would go in nor what she would say” (244).

        [Prince Vassily and son Anatole come to visit the senior Bolkonsky and his daughter.]


        [Even though everyone knows Anatole has been brought to meet Marya, he and Mademoiselle Bourienne are secretly flirting.]


        [When Marya found Anatole and Bourienne kissing in the garden, she knew she couldn’t marry him. She wants them to marry each other.]


        [Nikolay writes to his family about being wounded and advanced in rank. He still loves Sonya. They send him a care package. (Rostov family)]


“‘I say, Berg, my dear fellow,’ said Rostov; ‘when you get a letter from home and meet one of your own people, whom you want to talk everything over with, and I’m on the scene, I’ll clear out at once, so as not to be in your way. Do you hear, be off, please, anywhere, anywhere…to the devil!’ he cried, and immediately seizing him by the shoulder, and looking affectionately into his face, evidently to soften the rudeness of his words, he added: ‘you know, you’re not angry, my dear fellow, I speak straight from the hear to an old friend like you’” (265).

“He begged Rostov to tell them how and where he had been wounded. That pleased Rostov, and he began telling them, getting more and more eager as he talked. He described to them his battle at Schongraben exactly as men who have taken part in battles always do describe them, that is, as they would have liked them to be, as they have heard them described by others, and as sounds well, but not in the least as it really had been. Rostov was a truthful young man; he would not have intentionally told a lie” (267).

“‘Let me tell you this,’ Prince Andrey cut him short in a tone of quiet authority, ‘you are trying to insult me, and I’m ready to agree with you that it is very easy to do so, if you haven’t sufficient respect for yourself.”

“Rostov only bethought him of what he ought to have answered when he had gone. And he was more furious till that he had not thought of saying it” (269).

        [When Rostov was in the middle of telling his battle story to his friends, he was interrupted by Andre who had come to see Boris. Instant dislike on both sides.]


        [The two emperors come to inspect their troops. Rostov was obsessed with tsar. They all looked great and are ready to go back into battle.]


        [Boris is trying to move up through Andrey’s recommendation. It is slow going.]


        [Rostov’s love for the tsar.]


        [Napoleon has sent word of peace negotiations, but the Russians will have none of it. When Dolgorukov shows Andrey the attack plans, Andrey notices many flaws which he will speak of at the evening meeting.]


“Kutuzov, his uniform unbuttoned, and his fat neck as though set free from bondage, bulging over the collar, was sitting in a low chair…” (290).

        [Since Andrey had no chance to speak at the meeting, he imagines himself in the thick of battle, coming to the army’s aid with his ideas of attack that will save the day. More than anything he wants to be loved by military men.]


        [The French are rallying, getting ready to fight.]


        [The Russians believe the French to be in the fog ahead, when in fact they are above and behind.]


        [Troops moving into the valley. Even the emperors are there.]


        [As Andrey is leading with this flag in his dream battle, someone knocks him on the head and he goes down.]


        [Rostov was sent to deliver a message and was not only surprised to find the hill occupied by enemy instead of ally, but that some Russian and Austrian soldiers had been shooting at each other.]


        [The battle has been lost. Rostov chickens out when he gets his chance with the emperor. Dolohov’s hand is wounded. They are being chased by the French. Dolohov encourages everyone on to the frozen lake to get away, but the ice breaks and people start to drown.]


“Gazing into Napoleon’s eyes, Prince Andrey mused on the nothingness of greatness, on the nothingness of life, of which no one could comprehend the significance, and on the nothingness–still more–of death, the meaning of which could be understood and explained by none of the living.

“The Emperor, after vainly pausing for a reply, turned away and said to one of the officers in command–

“‘See that they look after these gentlemen and take them to my bivouac, let my doctor Larrey attend to their wounds. Au revoir, Prince Repnin,’ and he galloped away.

“His face was radiant with happiness and self-satisfaction.

“The soldiers, who had been carrying Prince Andrey, had come across the golden relic Princess Marya had hung upon her brother’s neck, and taken it off him, but seeing the graciousness the Emperor had shown to the prisoners, they made haste to restore the holy image.

“Prince Andrey did not see who put it on him again, nor how it was replaced, but all at once he found the locket on its delicate gold chain on his chest outside his uniform.

“‘How good it would be,’ thought Prince Andrey, as he glanced at the image which his sister had hung round his neck with such emotion and reverence, ‘how good it would be if all were as clear and simple as it seems to Marie. How good to know where to seek aid in this life and what to expect after it, there, beyond the grave!’

“‘How happy and at peace I should be, if I could say now, ‘Lord, have mercy on me!…’ But to whom am I to say that? Either a Power infinite, inconceivable, to which I cannot appeal, which I cannot even put into words, the great whole, or nothing,’ he said to himself, ‘or that Good, who has been sewn up here in this locket by Marie? There is nothing, nothing certain but the nothingness of all that is comprehensible to us, and the grandeur of something incomprehensible, but more important!’

“The stretchers began to be moved. At every jolt he felt intolerable pain again. The fever became higher, and he fell into delirium. Visions of his father, his wife, his sister, and his future son, and the tenderness he had felt for them on the night before the battle, the figure of that little, petty Napoleon, and over all these the lofty sky, formed the chief substance of his delirious dreams. The quiet home life and peaceful happiness of Bleak Hills passed before his imagination” (327).

[Napoleon had the wounded picked up and patched. All seems insignificant now to Andrey who had battle epiphanies.]



“But their eyes when they met spoke more fondly and kissed tenderly. Her eyes asked his forgiveness for having dared, by Natasha’s mediation, to remind him of his promise, and thanked him for his love. His eyes thanked her for offering him his freedom, and told her that whether so, or otherwise, he should never cease to love her, because it was impossible not to love her.

“‘How queer it is, though,’ said Vera, selecting a moment of general silence, ‘that Sonya and Nikolenka meet now and speak like strangers.’

“Vera’s observation was true, as were all her observations; but like most of her observations it made every one uncomfortable…” (335).

        [Denisov is invited to Rostov’s house while they are on leave. Warm reception. Rostov and Sonya have an understanding that they love each other but must remain free for now.]


        [Nilolay’s father Count Ilya Andreivitch is throwing a party for the one hero they could find. Prince Bagration. Everyone speaks poorly of Kutuzov.]


        [Party hearty!]


        [Pierre feels Dolohov has been messing around with his wife. They challenge each other to a duel.]


        [Pierre shot Dolohov.]


        [Pierre and Ellen break up. She claimed Dolohov was never her lover. Pierre had never loved her. He gave her over half of his estate to get rid of her.]


        [Prince Andrey Bolkonsky’s family doesn’t know if he is dead or alive. The father accepts him as dead, but the daughter still has hope.]


        [Andrey returns, just as his child is being born.]


        [During childbirth the baby lives, but the little princess dies. Andrey loves his son and mourns his wife’s death.]


        [Dolohov has taken a liking to Sonya, Nikolay’s sister’s friend. Dolohov has not died in the duel.]


        [Nikolay told Sonya she better take Dolohov’s offer of marriage while the getting is good because Nikolay knew that although he loved Sonya, he would fall in love many more times in the future.]


        [At the ball, Denisov and Natasha boogie down and hang out.]


        [Rostov suckered into a betting game with Dolohov lost all the money he had that was to last him all spring.]


        [Dolohov put Nikolay into gambling debt all for being angry that Sonya loves Nikolay and not himself.]


        [Nikolay went back home because now he has to ask for more money.]


        [Denisov asked Natasha to marry him, but she had to refuse, being too young. Nikolay’s dad pays off his debt. Nikolay and Denisov head back to war.]



“‘Was that good or bad?’ Pierre wondered. ‘For me good, for the next traveler bad, and for himself inevitable because he has nothing to eat; he said that an officer had thrashed him for it. And the officer thrashed him because he had to travel in haste. And I shot Dolohov because I considered myself injured. Louis XVI was executed because they considered him to be a criminal, and a year later his judges were killed too for something. What is wrong? What is right? What must one love, what must one hate? What is life for, and what am I? What is life? What is death? What force controls it all?’ he asked himself. And there was no answer to one of these questions, except one illogical reply that was in no way an answer to any of them. That reply was: ‘One dies and it’s all over. One dies and finds it all out or ceases asking.’ But dying too was terrible.

“The Torzhok pedlar woman in a whining voice proffered her wares, especially some goatskin slippers. ‘I have hundreds of roubles I don’t know what to do with, and she’s standing in her torn cloak looking timidly at me,’ thought Pierre. ‘And what does she want the money for? As though the money could give her one hairsbreadth of happiness, of peace of soul. Is there anything in the world that can make her and me less enslaved to evil and to death? Death, which ends all, and must come to-day or to-morrow–which beside eternity is the same as an instant’s time.’ And again he turned the screw that did not bite in anything, and the screw still went on turning in the same place.

“His servant handed him a half-cut volume of a novel in the form of letters by Madame Suza. He began reading of the sufferings and the virtuous struggles of a certain ‘Amelie de Mansfeld.’ ‘And what did she struggle against her seducer for?’ he thought, ‘when she loved him. God could not have put in her heart an impulse that was against His will. My wife–as she was once–didn’t struggle, and perhaps she was right. Nothing has been discovered,’ Pierre said to himself again, ‘nothing has been invented. We can only know that we know nothing. And that’s the highest degree of human wisdom.’

“Everything within himself and around him struck him as confused, meaningless, and loathsome. But in this very loathing of everything surrounding him Pierre found a sort of tantalising satisfaction” (389).

        [Pierre is traveling.]

II [Great chapter]

“‘I am afraid,’ said Pierre, smiling and hesitating between the confidence inspired in him by the personality of the freemason and the habit of ridiculing the articles of the masons’ creed; ‘I am afraid that I am very far from a comprehension–how shall I say–I am afraid that my way of thinking in regard to the whole theory of the universe is so opposed to yours that we shall not understand one another.’

“‘I am aware of your way of thinking,’ said the freemason, ‘and that way of thinking of which you speak, which seems to you the result of your own thought, is the way of thinking of the majority of men, and is the invariable fruit of pride, indolence, and ignorance. Excuse my saying, sir, that if I had not been aware of it, I should not have addressed you. Your way of thinking is a melancholy error’” (391-2).

“Pierre could not and would not interrupt this silence.

“‘He exists, but to comprehend Him is hard,’ the mason began again, not looking into Pierre’s face, but straight before him, while his old hands, which could not keep still for inward emotion, turned the leaves of the book. ‘If it had been a man of whose existence thou hadst doubts, I could have brought thee the man, taken him by the hand, and shown him thee. But how am I, an insignificant mortal, to show all the power, all the eternity, all the blessedness of Him to one who is blind, or to one who shuts his eyes that he may not see, may not understand Him, and may not see, and not understand all his own vileness and viciousness.’ He paused. ‘Who art thou? What art thou? Thou dreamest that thou art wise because thou couldst utter those scoffing words,’ he said, with a gloomy and scornful irony, ‘while thou art more foolish and artless than a little babe, who, playing with the parts of a cunningly fashioned watch, should rashly say that because he understands not the use of that watch, he does not believe in the maker who fashioned it. To know Him is a hard matter. For ages, from our first father Adam to our day, have we been striving for this knowledge, and are infinitely far from the attainment of our aim; but in our lack of understanding we see only our own weakness and His greatness…’

“Pierre gazed with shining eyes into the freemason’s face, listening with a thrill at his heart to his words; he did not interrupt him, not ask questions, but with all his soul he believed what this strange man was telling him. Whether he believed on the rational grounds put before him by the freemason, or believed, as children do, through the intonations, the conviction, and the earnestness, of the mason’s words, the quiver in his voice that sometimes almost broke his utterance, or the gleaming old eyes that had grown old in that conviction, or the calm, the resolution, and the certainty of his destination, which were conspicuous in the whole personality of the old man, and struck Pierre with particular force, beside his own abjectness and hopelessness,–any way, with his whole soul he longed to believe, and believed and felt a joyful sense of soothing, of renewal, and of return to life” (395).

        [Pierre meets a religious man–a freemason–who may have just changed Pierre’s life.]


        [Pierre begins his initiation into freemasonry.]


        [Pierre feels changed and anxious to begin.]


        [Vassily came to clear up the misunderstanding between his daughter Ellen and Pierre, but Pierre simply asked Vassily to go.]


        [Anna’s soiree. Boris, the adjutant, meets Ellen, the estranged wife of Pierre.]


        [Boris starts hanging out with Ellen.]


        [Prince Andrey’s baby is sick so he doesn’t want to work. Bolkonsky Sr. is now a commander; Andrey his adjutant.]


        [Bilibin sent Andrey a letter about how mixed up things are on the front line. The baby’s fever broke.]


        [As Pierre is trying to improve the profitability and life for serfs on his estates. He is being duped by his head steward, who knows just the right buttons to push.]


        [Pierre and Andre have totally different views on how to treat their slaves.]


       [Pierre convinced Andre of thing or two regarding his beliefs about life.]


       [When Pierre gets to Andrey’s house, Marya is visiting with religious pilgrims. The men have trouble believing what they say.]


       [Pierre was well received in the Bolkonsky house.]


       [Rostov returns to the ranks. He and Denisov grow closer.]


       [Because his men were starving, Denisov stole provisions from another regiment. He was shot in the thigh; not a serious wound. He took the opportunity to go to the hospital instead of to court.]


       [Rostov goes to the hospital to find Denisov with no luck yet. Typhoid has hit the patients and it is hell in there.]


       [Rostov finds Denisov and through the help of his hospital peers, Denisov finally writes the Emperor for forgiveness for taking the rations.]


        [Rostov came to Boris hoping he would take Denisov’s note of apology to the Emperor. Boris didn’t seem too accommodating.]


        [Rostov was successful at getting the message to the Tsar, but it is not looking favorable for Denisov to be pardoned.]


[Alexander and Napoleon have declared peace. Some of the fighting men don’t know what to think.]



        [For the last two years, Andrey has only kept to his estates and making steady improvements.]


“Prince Andrey got up and went to the window to open it. As soon as he opened the shutter, the moonlight broke into the room as though it had been waiting a long while outside on the watch for this chance. He opened the window. The night was fresh and bright and still. Just in front of the window stood a row of pollard-trees, black on one side, silvery bright on the other. Under the trees were rank, moist, bushy, growing plants of some kind, with leaves and stems touched here and there with silver. Further away, beyond the black trees, was the roof of something glistening with dew; to the right was a great, leafy tree, with its trunk and branches brilliantly white, and above it the moon, almost full, in a clear, almost starless, spring sky. Prince Andrey leaned his elbow on the window, and his eyes rested on that sky” (474).

        [Prince Andrey goes to the Rostov house on business and cannot understand why Natasha is always so happy.]


        [Prince Andrey is starting to think socially and about love again.]


        [Andrey met with the minister of war regarding some regulation ideas. The man appointed Andrey to a certain committee but with no pay.]


        [Andrey becomes intrigued with Speransky. They have a respect for each other. Speransky is going to talk with Magnitsky regarding Andrey’s ideas.]


“Within a week Prince Andrey was a member of the committee for the reconstruction of the army regulations, and–a thing he would never have expected–he was also chairman of a section of the commission for the revision of the legal code. At Speransky’s request he took the first part of the civil code under revision; and with the help of the Napoleonic Code and the Code of Justinian he worked at the revision of the section on Personal Rights” (488).


“Yet even in the whirl of his active work and his dissipations, Pierre began, after the lapse of a year, to feel more and more as though the ground of freemasonry on which he had taken his stand was slipping away under his feet the more firmly he tried to rest on it. At the same time he felt that the further the ground slipped from under his feet, the more close was his bondage to the order. When he had entered the brotherhood he had felt like a man who confidently puts his foot down on the smooth surface of a bog. Having put one foot down, he had sunk in; and to convince himself of the firmness of the ground on which he stood, he had put the other foot down on it too, and had sunk in further, had stuck in the mud, and now was against this own will struggling knee-deep in the bog” (488-9).

“Every reform by violence is to be deprecated, because it does little to correct the evil while men remain as they are, and because wisdom has no need of violence” (491).

        [When Pierre recognized the freemasons were getting off track, he gave a speech which divided the group. Pierre’s ideas were dismissed by those higher in rank.]


        [Osip Alexyevitch leads Pierre through tough spiritual times. Ellen writes Pierre and begs to get back together. Being his own role model, he returns to his wife.]


        [Ellen is a socialite. Pierre is her husband in name only. Pierre is evolving, but Boris can still make him jealous.]


        [Pierre writes down his dreams.]


        [Berg is marrying Vera only for the money. The father gives the money, even though he is broke.]


        [Boris means to let Natasha know that he doesn’t intend on marrying her. He keeps hanging out but gets caught up in the fun, always coming away without breaking his vow.]


        [Natasha spoke with her mom. Although she loved flirting with Boris, she wasn’t in love. They were both poor. Mom had to tell Boris not to come over so much.]


        [The poor Rostovs have been invited to one of the best balls of the year. They take Madame Peronsky along.]


        [This chapter catches you up on who is after whom romantically.]


“Her bare neck and arms were thin, and not beautiful compared with Ellen’s shoulders. Her shoulders were thin, her bosom undefined, her arms were slender. But Ellen was, as it were, covered with the hard varnish of those thousands of eyes that had scanned her person, while Natasha seemed like a young girl stripped for the first time, who would have been greatly ashamed if she had not been assured by every one that it must be so” (520).

        [Prince Andrey asked Natasha to dance and became intoxicated with her beauty.]


“Like all men who have grown up in society, Prince Andrey liked meeting anything not of the conventional society stamp.

“‘I should have been glad to rest and sit by you. I’m tired; but you see how they keep asking me, and I’m glad of it, and I’m happy, and I love every one, and you and I understand all about it,’ and more, much more was said in that smile” (521).

“‘Enjoying myself as I never have before in my life!’ she said, and Prince Andrey noticed how her thin arms were swiftly raised as though to embrace her father, and dropped again at once. Natasha was happy as she had never been in her life. She was at that highest pitch of happiness, when one becomes completely good and kind, and disbelieves in the very possibility of evil, unhappiness, and sorrow” (522).

        [Prince Andrey notices Natasha is a rare find. She is having the time of her life.]


        [Prince Andre is having somewhat of a career crisis. His hero, Speransky, no longer appears heroic, nor does any of the work he’s been doing.]


        [Andrey doesn’t know he’s in love, but getting reacquainted with Natasha makes him see his life as new.]


        [The Bergs have a soiree.]


        [I think Prince Andrey is about to pop the question to Natasha.]


        [Pierre is severely depressed. Andrey is in love.]


        [The proposal is accepted under the terms of a one year engagement.]


        [Natasha has the right at any time of her engagement to change her mind. Andrey leaves to go abroad.]


        [Marya writing to a friend doesn’t think her brother Andrey will ever marry again; certainly not anyone the likes of Natasha.]


        [Marya is a religious fanatic. She wants to become a pilgrim but can’t yet leave her nephew and father.]



“The Biblical tradition tells us that the absence of work–idleness–was a condition of the first man’s blessedness before the Fall. The love of idleness has remained the same in fallen man; but the curse still lies heavy upon man, and not only because in the sweat of our brow we must eat bread, but because from our moral qualities we are unable to be idle and at peace. A secret voice tells us that we must be to blame for being idle. If a man could find a state in which while being idle he could feel himself to be of use and to be doing his duty, he would have attained to one side of primitive blessedness. And such a class–the military class. It is in that obligatory and irreproachable idleness that the chief attraction of military service has always consisted, and will always consist” (553).

“…Dozhoyveyky, and was beginning to wonder uneasily what he should find on reaching Otradnoe. The nearer he got, the more intense, far more intense, were his thoughts of home (as though moral feeling were subject to the law of acceleration in inverse ratio with the square of the distance)” (555).

        [Natasha’s mother worries about Andrey’s health.]


        [The Rostov’s have no business sense, and their estate is going into debt.]


“Five minutes later Danilo and Uvarka were standing in Nikolay’s big study. Although Danilo was not tall, to see him in a room gave one an impression such as one has on seeing a horse or bear standing on the floor among the furniture and surroundings of human life. Danilo felt this himself, and as usual he kept close to the door and tried to speak more softly, and not to move for fear of causing some breakage in the master’s apartments” (560).

        [When Natasha and Petya find their older brother Nikolay is going hunting. They determine to go along.]


        [Old Count Rostov let the wolf slip.]


        [The wolf hunt.]


        [Another hunt.]


        [Natasha and Nikolay have a wonderful time at their uncle’s after the chases.]


        [The Rostov’s last hope of keeping their estate is if Nikolay marries money. His mother has already picked out a woman, but Nikolay loves the poor Sonya. Andrey’s return has been delayed due to health problems.]


        [Natasha is restless.]


        [To pass the time, a big group of house servants and the Rostov kids all dress up in costume and go visiting.]


        [When they all dressed up, Nikolay began to see Sonya in a different light. They had grown up together, but now they seemed different. He kisses her.]


        [Sonya and Natasha play at trying to look into the future.]


        [When Nikolay announced his intention to marry Sonya, it sent his mother into a depressing downward spin. She had never been displeased with her son before. The Rostovs were selling off their estates to relieve some of their debt.]



“He suffered from an unlucky faculty–common to many men, especially Russians–the faculty of seeing and believing in the possibility of good and truth, and at the same time seeing too clearly the evil and falsity of life to be capable of taking a serious part in it” (612).

“Although the doctors told him that in view of his corpulence wine was injurious to him, he drank a very great deal. He never felt quite content except when he had, almost unconsciously, lifted several glasses of wine to his big mouth. Then he felt agreeably warm all over his body, amiably disposed towards all his fellows, and mentally ready to respond superficially to every idea, without going too deeply into it. It was only after drinking a bottle or two of wine that he felt vaguely that the terrible tangled skein of life which had terrified him so before was not so terrible as he had fancied. With a buzzing in his head, chatting, listening to talk or reading after dinner and supper, he invariably saw that tangled skein on some one of its sides. It  was only under the influence of wine that he said to himself: ‘Never mind. I’ll disentangle it all; here I have a solution all ready. But now’s not the time. I’ll go into all that later on!’ But that later on never came.

“In the morning, before breakfast, all the old questions looked as insoluble and fearful as ever, and Pierre hurriedly snatched up a book and rejoiced when any one came in to see him.

“Sometimes Pierre remembered what he had been told of soldiers under fire in ambuscade when they have nothing to do, how they try hard to find occupation so as to bear their danger more easily. And Pierre pictured all men as such soldiers trying to find a refuge from life: some in ambition, some in cards, some in framing laws, some in women, some in playthings, some in horses, some in politics, some in sport, some in wine, some in the government service. ‘Nothing is trivial, nothing is important, everything is the same, only to escape from it as best one can,’ thought Pierre. ‘Only not to see it, that terrible it’” (613).

         [Pierre’s psychological life.]


        [Marya is abused by her feeble, crazy father.]


        [Old Prince Andreitch’s birthday party. Men spoke of the upcoming war and how the youth of Russia now seem to love everything French. The Prince told Marya to move out.]


        [Pierre notices Marya is sad. He mentions that one of the guests was flirting with her. Marya is anxious about Natasha showing up to meet Andrey.]


        [Boris asks Julie Karagin to marry, although for money, NOT for love.]


        [The Rostovs come to town and are staying with old Marya Dmitryevna.]


        [Natasha’s first meeting with Marya did not go well at all.]


        [Everyone is at the symphony.]


        [Everyone at the opera seems impressed with Natasha . Ellen Bezuhov invites Natasha to sit beside her.]


        [When Natasha meets Anatole Kuragin, they both freak out.]


        [Anatole is secretly married to a Polish woman whom he has abandoned. He drinks, spends money and flirts.]


        [M. Dmitryevna went to visit Andrey’s father to ask what was up with the wedding plans. She seemed upset when she came home.]


        [Anatole kisses Natasha at a party. Now she feels she loves him and Andrey.]


        [Now Natasha has received a love letter from Anatole.]


        [Natasha’s love for Anatole has sickened Sonya. Natasha wrote to Marya saying she wasn’t going to marry Andrey. She is secretly planning to run away with Anatole.]


        [Dolohov and Anatole’s driver is known for driving horses until they die. Anatole is to secret Natasha away and marry her invalidly.]


        [The gig was up. They tried to capture Anatole when he came for Natasha.]


        [Marya had stopped the disgrace from happening and proposes to keep it from Natasha’s father.]


        [Marya sent for Pierre. He should inform Anatole to leave town before the foiled elopement is found out and someone challenges a duel. Pierre tells Natasha that Anatole is already married.]


        [Pierre cannot believe his brother-in-law Anatole has been so insensitive. Pierre gives him money to leave town.]


        [Andrey finally returned to Moscow. After hearing the news, he gives Pierre all of Natasha’s letters to be returned to her.]


        [When Pierre went to return the Letters, he felt so strongly for Natasha that he couldn’t even do it. He simply offered her his friendship.]



“It was essential that the millions of men in whose hands the real power lay–the soldiers who fired guns and transported provisions and cannons–should consent to carry out the will of those feeble and isolated persons, and that they should have been brought to this acquiescence by an infinite number of varied and complicated causes” (689).

“When the apple is ripe and falls–why does it fall? Is it because it is drawn by gravitation to the earth, because its stalk is withered, because it is dried by the sun, because it grows heavier, because the wind shakes it, or because the boy standing under the tree wants to eat it?

“Not one of those is the cause. All that simply makes up the conjunction of conditions under which every living, organic, elemental event takes place. And the botanist who says that the apple has fallen because the cells are decomposing, and so on, will be just as right as the boy standing under the tree who says the apple has fallen because he wanted to eat it and prayed for it to fall. The historian, who says that Napoleon went to Moscow because he wanted to, and was ruined because Alexander desired his ruin, will be just as right and as wrong as the man who says that the mountain of millions of tons, tottering and undermined, has been felled by the last stroke of the last workingman’s pick-axe. In historical events great men–so called–are but the labels that serve to give a name to an event, and like labels, they have the least possible connection with the event itself.

“Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in a historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity” (690-1).

        [The war began for a multitude of reasons.]


        [Napoleon’s own men would do wildly audacious things for him, even if they died trying.]


        [Alexander has found out Napoleon is invading Moscow. His troops are unprepared.]


“The sun was only beginning to rise behind storm-clouds, the air was fresh and dewy. A herd of cattle was being driven along the road from the village. Larks sprang up trilling one after another in the fields, like bubbles rising to the surface of water” (699).

        [Alexander is trying to send word that he will not let go Moscow.]


“Davoust was to the Emperor Napoleon what Araktcheev was to Alexander. Davoust was not like Araktcheev a coward, but he was as exacting and as cruel, and as unable to express his devotion except by cruelty.

“In the mechanism of the state organism these men are as necessary as wolves in the organism of nature. And they are always to be found in every government; they always make their appearance and hold their own, incongruous as their presence and their close relations with the head of the state may appear. It is only on the theory of this necessity that one can explain the fact that a man so cruel–capable of pulling out grenadiers’ moustaches with his own hand–though unable, from the weakness of his nerves, to face danger, so uncultured, so boorish as Araktcheev, was able to retain such influence with a sovereign of chivalrous tenderness and nobility of character like Alexander.

“Better quarters could have been found, but Marshal Davoust was one of these people who purposely put themselves into the most dismal conditions of life in order to have a right to be dismal. For the same reason they always persist in being busy and in a hurry” (702). 

        [Before Balashov could even get Napoleon the note, they had advanced.]


        [Napoleon is pissed.]


        [Marya tries to get Andrey to forgive Anatole and the temper of his own father, but he cannot.]


“The members of this party–to which Araktcheev belonged–were mostly not military men, and they spoke and reasoned as men usually do who have no convictions, but wish to pass for having them” (722).

        [With the tsar at the front, the Russians didn’t know if they were coming or going. They suggested he return to Moscow to keep up patriotism.]


“Pfuhl was one of those hopelessly, immutably conceited men, ready to face martyrdom for their own ideas, conceited as only Germans can be, just because it is only a German’s conceit that is based on an abstract idea–science, that is, the supposed possession of absolute truth. The Frenchman is conceited from supposing himself mentally and physically to be inordinately fascinating both to men and to women. An Englishman is conceited on the ground of being a citizen of the best-constituted state in the world, and also because he as an Englishman always knows what is the correct thing to do, and knows that everything that he, as an Englishman, does do is indisputably the correct thing. An Italian is conceited from being excitable and easily forgetting himself and other people. A Russian is conceited precisely because he knows nothing and cares to know nothing, since he does not believe it possible to know anything fully. A conceited German is the worst of them all, and the most hardened of all, and the most repulsive of all; for he imagines that he possesses the truth in a science of his own invention, which is to him absolute truth” (728).

        [Description of Pfuhl.]


         [As Andrey listens to all of those military strategists, he becomes disgusted there was no science to this. He chose to be sent to the front.]


        [The Rostovs ask Nikolay to come home but he can’t now that the regiments are moving again.]


        [A night of innocent flirtations on the front.]


“All that day and the next Rostov’s friends and comrades noticed that, without being exactly depressed or irritable, he was silent, dreamy, and preoccupied. He did not care to drink, tried to be alone, and seemed absorbed in thought. Rostov was still pondering on his brilliant exploit, which, to his amazement, had won him the St. George’s Cross and made his reputation indeed for fearless gallantry. There was something he could not fathom in it. ‘So they are even more frightened than we are,’ he thought. ‘Why, is this all that’s meant by heroism? And did I do it for the sake of my country? And was he to blame with his dimple and his blue eyes? How frightened he was! He thought I was going to kill him. Why should I kill him? My hand trembled. And they have given me the St. George’s Cross. I can’t make it out, I can’t make it out’” (746)!


        [Natasha is only now regaining her health after taking the arsenic.]


        [Natasha finds more comfort in religion than in medicine.]


        [Natasha puts all her passion into prayer.]


       [Pierre is secretly in love with Natasha. He now feels he and Napoleon are bound to meet by some weird superstition he has about the number of the beast.]


        [Being around Natasha is starting to break Pierre’s heart. He made up his mind to not visit the Rostovs.]


        [Petya has war fever! He’s signing up!]


        [Everyone in Moscow has a different opinion.]


        [Everyone signs on in a fever of patriotism.]



        [When you look back at history, it APPEARS as if everyone knows what they were talking about, but they didn’t. Napoleon is going for the heart of Russia.]


        [Prince Bolkonsky Sr. is losing his wits more and more. He won’t acknowledge the current war.]


        [Sr. Prince grasps for a moment that the soldiers are on their way.]


        [On the same day the governor sent a letter to the Bolkonskys to escape to Smolensk, Prince Andrey Jr. sent a letter saying Smolensk had already surrendered.]


        [Prince Andrey sees Bleak Hills decimated.]


        [Vassily condemns Kutuzov but then when he is turned autocrat, Vassily backs up that decision.]


“He was very well aware that this was Napoleon, and Napoleon’s presence impressed him no more than Rostov’s or the quartermaster’s with the rod in his hand, because he had nothing of which either the quartermaster or Napoleon could not deprive him” (811).

        [A temporary P.O.W. tells Napoleon that if he wants to win Russia, he better start now.]


        [The old Rostov prince finally dies.]


        [The serfs have been in cahoots with the French. They are not following orders to help people leave.]


        [Marya wants to leave because they are becoming surrounded, but there are no horses. The serfs are starving. She gives them wheat. She is taking control.]


        [Marya’s serfs won’t leave or take her corn. She plans to escape next day.]


        [Marya lets her imagination frighten her.]


        [Rostov, out looking for hay, comes across Marya’s situation. He will escort her out of danger.


        [It seems Nikolay Rostov and Marya Bolkonsky have fallen in love, but no one has yet spoken of it. Nikolay worries about his promise to Sonya.


“He was obviously hearing it simply because he had ears, and although one of them was stuffed up with cotton-wool they could not help hearing. But it was obvious that nothing that general could possibly say could surprise or interest him, that he knew beforehand all he would be told, and listened only because he had to listen to it, just as one has to listen to the litany being sung” (848).

        [Kutuzov in action. Denisov meets Andre. Denisov has once proposed to Andrey’s sister Natasha when they were kids.]


“How, and why it was, Prince Andrey could not explain, but after this interview with Kutuzov, he went back to his regiment feeling reassured as to the future course of the war, and as to the man to whom its guidance was entrusted. The more clearly he perceived the absence of everything personal in the old leader, who seemed to have nothing left of his own but habits of passions, and instead of an intellect grasping events and making plans, had only the capacity for the calm contemplation of the course of events, the more confident he felt that all would be as it should be. ‘He will put in nothing of himself. He will contrive nothing, will undertake nothing,’ thought Prince Andrey; ‘but he will hear everything, will think of everything, will put everything in its place, will not hinder anything that could be of use, and will not allow anything that could do harm. He knows that there is something stronger and more important than his will–that is the inevitable march of events, and he can see them, can grasp their significance, and, seeing their significance, can abstain from meddling, from following his own will, and aiming at something else. And the chief reason,’ thought Prince Andrey, ‘why one believes in him is that he’s Russian…” (851).

        [Andrey felt reassured of Kutuzov’s capabilities after visiting with him.]


        [Julie fills in Pierre on all the romantic news. Marya is in town. Natasha seems fully recovered.]


        [Pierre joins the front.]


        [Battle of Borodino fought with the Russians doing a half ass job.]


        [Pierre contemplates death and war.]


        [Pierre watches a procession. He gets a handle on everyone’s position.]


        [Boris works for Benningsen in a high position. They will take Pierre with them to inspect their position.]


        [Miscommunication moves a group of soldiers from ambush to obvious position.]


“He knew that the battle next day would be the most awful of all he had taken part in, and death, for the first time, presented itself to him, not in relation to his actual manner of life, or to the effect of it on others, but simply in relation to himself, to his soul, and rose before him simply and awfully with a vividness that made it like a concrete reality. And from the height of this vision everything that had once occupied him seemed suddenly illumined by a cold, white light, without shade, without perspective or outline. His whole life seemed to him like a magic lantern, at which he had been looking through the glass and by artificial light. Now he saw suddenly, without the glass, in the clear light of day, those badly daubed pictures. ‘Yes, yes, there are they; there are the cheating forms that excited torments and ecstasies in me,’ he said to himself, going over in imagination the chief pictures of the magic lantern of his life, looking at them now in the cold, white daylight of a clear view of death. ‘These are they, these coarsely sketched figures which seemed something splendid and mysterious. Glory, the good society, love for a woman, the fatherland–what grand pictures they used to seem to me, with what deep meaning they seemed to be filled! And it is all so simple, so colourless and coarse in the cold light of the day that I feel is dawning for me.’ The three chief sorrows of his life held his attention especially. His love for a woman, his father’s death, and the invasion of the French–now in possession of half of Russia. ‘Love!…That little girl, who seemed to me brimming over with mysterious forces. How I loved  her! I made romantic plans of love, of happiness with her! O simple-hearted youth!’ he said aloud bitterly. ‘Why, I believed in some ideal love which was to keep her faithful to me for the whole year of my absence! Like the faithful dove in the fable, she was to pine away in my absence from her! And it was all so much simpler…It is all so horribly simple and loathsome!

“‘My father, too, laid out Bleak Hills, and thought it was his place, his land, his air, his peasants. But Napoleon came along, and without even knowing of his existence, swept him away like a chip out of his path, and his Bleak Hills laid in the dust, and all his life with it brought to nought. Princess Marya says that it is a trial sent from above. What is the trial for, since he is not and never will be? He will never come back again! He is not! So for whom is it a trial? Fatherland, the spoiling of Moscow! But tomorrow I shall be killed; and not by a Frenchman even, maybe, but by one of our own men, like the soldier who let off his gun close to my ear yesterday; and the French will come and pick me up by my head and my heels and pitch me into a hole that I may not stink under their noses; and new conditions of life will arise, and I shall know nothing of them, and I shall not be at all’” (879-80).

        [Pierre accidentally runs into Prince Andrey. Pierre confirms that the Bolkonskys have moved out of danger.]


“‘So you think the battle tomorrow will be a victory,’ said Pierre.

“‘Yes, yes,’ said Prince Andrey absently. ‘There’s one thing I would do, if I were in power,’ he began again. ‘I wouldn’t take prisoners. What sense is there in taking prisoners? That’s chivalry. The French have destroyed my home and are coming to destroy Moscow; they have outraged and are outraging me at every second. They are my enemies, they are all criminals to my way of thinking. And so thinks Timohin, and all the army with him. They must be put to death. Since they are my enemies, they can’t be my friends, whatever they may have said at Tilsit.’

“‘Yes, yes,’ said Pierre, looking with shining eyes at Prince Andrey. ‘I entirely agree with you!’

“The question that had been disturbing Pierre all that day, since the Mozhaisk hill, now struck him as perfectly clear and fully solved. He saw now all the import and all the gravity of the war and the impending battle. All he had seen that day, all the stern, grave faces of which he had had glimpses, appeared to him in a new light now. He saw, to borrow a term from physics, the latent heat of patriotism in all those men he had seen, and saw in it the explanation of the composure and apparent levity with which they were all preparing for death. ‘We ought not to take prisoners,’ said Prince Andrey. ‘That change alone would transform the whole aspect of war and would make it less cruel. But playing at war, that’s what’s vile; and playing at magnanimity and all the rest of it. That magnanimity and sensibility is like the magnanimity and sensibility of the lady who turns sick at the sight of a slaughtered calf–she is so kind-hearted she can’t see blood–but eats fricasseed veal with a very good appetite. They talk of the laws of warfare, of chivalry, of flags of true, and humanity to the wounded, and so on. That’s all rubbish. I saw enough in 1805 of chivalry and flags of truce: they duped us, and we duped them. They plunder other people’s homes, issue false money, and, worse than all, kill my children, my father, and then talk of the laws of warfare, and generosity to a fallen foe. No prisoners; and go to give and to meet death! Any one who has come to think this as I have, through the same sufferings…’

“Prince Andrey, who had thought that he did not care whether they took Moscow as they had taken Smolensk, was suddenly pulled up in his speech by a nervous catch in his throat. He walked to and fro several times in silence, but his eyes blazed with feverish brilliance and his lips quivered, as he began to speak again.

“‘If there were none of this playing at generosity in warfare, we should never go to war, except for something worth facing certain death for, as now. Then there would not be wars because Pavel Ivanitch had insulted Mihail Ivanitch. But if there is war as now, let it be really war. And then the intensity of warfare would be something quite different. All these Westphalians and Hessians Napoleon is leading against us would not have come to fight us in Russia, and we should not have gone to war in Austria and in Prussia without knowing what for. War is not a polite recreation, but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept it sternly and solemnly as a fearful necessity. It all comes to this: have done with lying, and if it’s war, then it’s war and not a game, or else warfare is simply the favourite pastime of the idle and frivolous…The military is the most honoured calling. And what is war, what is needed for success in war, what are the morals of the military world? The object of warfare is murder; the means employed in warfare–spying, treachery, and the encouragement of it, the ruin of a country, the plundering of its inhabitants and robbery for the maintenance of the army, trickery and lying, which are called military strategy; the morals of the military class–absence of all independence, that is, discipline, idleness, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness. And in spite of all that, it is the highest class, respected by every one. All sovereigns, except the Chinese, wear a military uniform, and give the greatest rewards to the man who succeeds in killing most people…they meet together to murder one another, as we shall do tomorrow; they slaughter and mutilate tens of thousands of men, and then offer up thanksgiving services for the number f men they have killed (and even add to it in the telling), and glorify the victory, supposing that the more men have been slaughtered the greater the achievement. How God can look down from above and hear them!’ shrieked Prince Andrey in a shrill, piercing voice. ‘Ah, my dear boy, life has been a bitter thing for me of late. I see that I have come to understand too much. And it is not good for man to taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…Ah, well, it’s not for long!’ he added. ‘But you are getting sleepy and it’s time I was in bed too. Go back to Gorky,’ said Prince Andrey suddenly. 

“‘Oh no!’ answered Pierre, gazing with eyes full of scared sympathy at Prince Andrey.

“‘You must be off; before a battle one needs to get a good sleep’” (885-886).

        [Andrey describes his ideas of war to Pierre. Andrey remembers loving Natasha; how Pierre’s brother-in-law wronged her.]




        [How Napoleon’s plans are skewed.]


        [The leaders don’t create war; it’s the combination of every man on his own.]


“‘Corvisart gave me these lozenges, but they do no good. What can they cure? They can’t cure anything. Our body is a machine for living. It is organised for that, it is its nature; leave life to it unhindered, let life defend itself in it; it will do more than if you paralyse it, encumbering it with remedies. Our body is a perfect watch, meant to for a certain time; the watchmaker has not the power of opening it, he can only handle it in fumbling fashion, blindfold. Our body is a machine for living, that’s all’” (898-9).

        [The game had begun.]


        [The battle has begun. Pierre throws himself in.]


        [The group Pierre is hanging with starts to get fired on.]


        [Many are lost. The fighting continues.]


        [Actions during battle.]


        [The Russians are holding their line. The French ask for reinforcements.]


        [The French left off firing but the Russians plan on attacking tomorrow.]


        [Prince Andrey is severely wounded.]


        [After Andrey has been patched, he notices the man whose leg was being amputated as Anatole. Andrey cries for all the love he has missed in his life.]


        [Napoleon “imagined that the war with Russia was entirely due to his will, and the horror of what was done made no impression on his soul. He boldly assumed the whole responsibility of it all; and his clouded intellect found justification in the fact that among the hundreds of thousands of men who perished, there were fewer Frenchmen than Hessians and Bavarians” (933).]


[“The direct consequence of the battle of Borodino was Napoleon’s causeless flight from Moscow, his return by the old Smolensk road, the ruin of the invading army of five hundred thousand men, and the downfall of the Napoleonic rule, on which, for the first time at Borodino, was laid the hand of a foe of stronger spirit” (936).]



        [The laws of history.]


        [How the decisions of a commander rely upon a variety of factors.]


        [Kutuzov can’t believe he has given up Moscow.]


        [Kutuzov gives orders to retire.]


        [Rastoptchin during the abandonment of Moscow.]


“To her notions, the real object of every religion was to provide recognized forms of propriety for the satisfaction of human desires” (954).

        [Ellen becomes Catholic with the intention of divorcing.]


        [Ellen wants a divorce and to marry another. She writes to Pierre to begin the proceedings.]


        [Pierre heads home while contemplating that the battle had been enough for him.]


“When he recalled those thoughts later, although they had been evoked by the impressions of that day, Pierre was convinced that they were uttered by some one outside himself. It seemed to him that he had never been capable of thinking those thoughts and expressing them in that form in his waking moments.

“‘The most difficult thing is the subjection of man’s will to the law of God,’ said the voice. ‘Simplicity is the submission to god; there is no escaping from Him. And they are simple. They do not talk, but act. A word uttered is silver, but unuttered is golden. No one can be master of anything while he fears death. And all things belong to him who fears it not. If it were not for suffering, a man would know not his limits, would know not himself. The hardest thing’ (Pierre thought or heard in his dream) ‘is to know how to unite in one’s soul the significance of the whole. To unite the whole?’ Pierre said to himself. ‘No, not to unite. One cannot unite one’s thoughts, but to harness together,’ Pierre repeated to himself with a thrill of ecstasy, feeling that those words, and only those words, expressed what he wanted to express, and solved the whole problem fretting him.

“‘Yes, one must harness together; it’s time to harness…’” (962-3).

        [Pierre has an important dream. Anatole and Andrey are dead.]


        [Pierre is hearing the gossip of the town. They say Ellen is preparing to go abroad.]


        [So many people want to do business or have questions of Pierre that he just simply runs away.]


“She was gay too, because she needed some one to adore her (the adoration of others was like the grease on the wheels, without which her mechanism never worked quite smoothly), and Petya did adore her” (972).

        [Petya comes home as his family packs for evacuation.]


        [Mother Rostov finally lost it. Let’s get out of here!]


        [Andrey is not quite dead, but at death’s door. He has by coincidence ended up at the soon-to-be abandoned Rostov mansion.]


        [Now Rostov Sr. wants to unload the wagons of their possessions and take wounded soldiers out of the town.]


        [The family decides to transport the wounded instead of their earthly possessions.]


        [On their way out of Moscow, Natasha spots Pierre. He is staying.]


        [Pierre prepares for battle within the city.]


        [Napoleon wants to make a general statement to the city, but everyone has gone except a small gang of drunk fighters. This embarrasses Napoleon.]


“Moscow meanwhile was empty. There were still people in the city; a fiftieth part of all the former inhabitants still remained in it, but it was empty.

“It was deserted as a dying, queenless hive is deserted.

“In a queenless hive there is no life left. Yet at a superficial glance it seems as much alive as other hives.

“In the hot rays of the midday sun the bees soar as gaily around the queenless hive as around other living hives; from a distance it smells of honey like the rest, and bees fly into and out of it just the same. Yet one has but to watch it a little to see that there is no life in the hive. The flight of the bees is not as in living hives, the smell and the sound that meet the beekeeper are changed. When the beekeeper strikes the wall of the sick hive, instead of the instant, unanimous response, the buzzing of tens of thousands of bees menacingly arching their backs, and by the rapid stroke of their wings making that whirring, living sound, he is greeted by a disconnected, droning him from different parts of the deserted hive. From the alighting board comes not as of old the spirituous, fragrant smell of honey and bitterness, and the whiff of heat from the multitudes within. A smell of chill emptiness and decay mingles with the scent of honey. Around the entrance there is now no throng of guards, arching their backs and trumpeting the menace, ready to die in its defense. There is heard no more the low, even hum, the buzz of toil, like the singing of boiling water, but the broken, discordant uproar of disorder comes forth. The black, long-shaped, honey-smeared workers fly timidly and furtively in and out of the hive: they do not sting, but crawl away at the sight of danger. Of old they flew in only with their bags of honey, and flew out empty: now they fly out with their burdens. The beekeeper opens the lower partition and peeps into the lower half of the hive. Instead of the clusters of black, sleek bees, clinging on each other’s legs, hanging to the lower side of the partition, and with an unbroken hum of toil building at the wax, drowsy, withered bees wander listlessly about over the roof and walls of the hive. Instead of the cleanly glued-up floor, swept by the bees’ wings, there are now bits of wax, excrement, dying bees feebly kicking, and dead bees lying not cleared away on the floor.

“The beekeeper opens the upper door and examines the super of the hive. In place of close rows of bees, sealing up every gap left in the combs and fostering the brood, he sees only the skillful, complex, edifice of combs, and even in this the virginal purity of old days is gone. All is forsaken; and soiled, black, stranger bees scurry swiftly and stealthily about the combs in search of plunder; while the dried-up, shrunken, listless, old-looking bees of the hive wander slowly about, doing nothing to hinder them, having lost every desire and sense of life. Drones, gadflies, wasps and butterflies flutter about aimlessly, brushing their wings against the walls of the hive. Here and there, between the cells full of dead brood and honey, is heard an angry buzz; here and there a couple of bees from old habit and custom, though they know not why they do it, are cleaning the hive, painfully dragging away a dead bee or a wasp, a task beyond their strength. In another corner two other old bees are languidly fighting or cleaning themselves or feeding one another, themselves unaware whether with friendly or hostile intent. Elsewhere a crowd of bees, squeezing one another, is falling upon some victim, beating and crushing it; and the killed or enfeebled bee drops slowly, light as a feather, on to the heap of corpses. The beekeeper parts the two centre partitions to look at the nursery. Instead of the dense, black rings of thousands of bees, sitting back to back, watching the high mysteries of the work of generation, he sees hundreds of dejected, lifeless, and slumbering wrecks of bees. Almost all have died, unconscious of their coming end, sitting in the holy place, which they had watched–now no more. They reek of death and corruption. But a few of them still stir, rise up, fly languidly and settle on the hand of the foe, without the spirit to die stinging him; the rest are dead and as easily brushed aside as fishes’ scales. The beekeeper closes the partition, chalks a mark on the hive, and choosing his own time, breaks it up and burns it.

“So was Moscow deserted, as Napoleon, weary, uneasy and frowning, paced up and down at the Kamerkolezhsky wall awaiting that merely external, but still to his mind essential observance of the proprieties–a deputation.

“Some few men were still astir in odd corners of Moscow, aimlessly following their old habits, with no understanding of what they were doing.

“When, with due circumspectness, Napoleon was informed that Moscow was deserted, he looked wrathfully at his informant, and turning his back on him, went on pacing up and down in silence.

“‘My carriage,’ he said. He sat down in his carriage beside the adjutant on duty, and drove into the suburbs.

“‘Moscow deserted! What an incredible event!’ he said to himself.

“He did not drive right into the town, but put up for the night at an inn in the Dorogomilov suburb. The dramatic scene had not come off” (998-1000).


        [Pillaging of the shops.]


        [A stranger that had the Rostov features stopped by for a handout. The family had gone so Marya gave the boy some money.]


        [The people left in Moscow don’t know what to do. No plan.]


        [Rastoptchin is the last man left in the city in charge of anything. He is pissy that everyone gave up.]


“‘Kindly leave me; I know what to do without your assistance,’ cried Rastoptchin angrily. He stood at the door of the balcony looking at the crowd. ‘This is what they have done with Russia! This is what they have done with me!’ thought Rastoptchin, feeling a rush of irrepressible rage against the undefined some one to whose fault what was happening could be set down. As is often the case with excitable persons, he was possessed by fury, while still seeking an object for it. ‘Here is the populace, the dregs of the people,’ he thought, looking at the crowd, ‘that they have stirred up by their folly. They want a victim,’ came into his mind, as he watched the waving arm of the tall fellow in front. And the thought struck him precisely because he too wanted a victim, an object for his wrath” (1014).

“Kutuzov stared at Rastoptchin, and, as though not understanding the meaning of the words addressed to him, he strove earnestly to decipher the special meaning betrayed at that minute on the face of the man addressing him. Rastoptchin ceased speaking in discomfiture. Kutuzov slightly shook his head, and, still keeping his searching eyes on Rastoptchin’s face, he murmured softly:

“‘Yes, I won’t give up Moscow without a battle.’

“Whether Kutuzov was thinking of something different when he uttered those words, or said them purposely, knowing them to be meaningless, Count Rastoptchin made him no reply, and hastily left him. And–strange to tell! The governor of Moscow, the proud Count Rastoptchin, picking up a horse whip, went to the bridge, and fell to shouting and driving on the crowded carts” (1021).


        [Moscow burns. The French army takes up residence.]


“The other was that vague and exclusively Russian feeling of contempt for everything conventional, artificial, human, for everything that is regarded by the majority of men as the highest good in the world. Pierre had for the first time experienced that strange and fascinating feeling in the Slobodsky palace, when he suddenly felt that wealth and power and life, all that men build up and guard with such effort, is only worth anything through the joy with which it can all be cast away.

“It was the same feeling that impels the volunteer-recruit to drink up his last farthing, the drunken man to smash looking-glasses and window panes for no apparent cause, though he knows it will cost him his little all; the feeling through which a man in doing things, vulgarly speaking,, senseless, as it were, proves his personal force and power, by manifesting the presence of a higher standard of judging life, outside mere human limitations” (1028).

        [Pierre intends to defend his turf. Makar Alexyevitch grabs a gun and gets escorted out.]


        [Instead of fighting them, Pierre ends up saving a Frenchman’s life. They are going to dine.]


        [Pierre and the Frenchman talk all night.]


        [Moscow is set on fire.]


        [Natasha sneaks in to see Andrey.]


        [Natasha nurses Andrey. They show true love for one another.]


        [On his way to kill Napoleon, Pierre is called upon to save a child from a fire.]


        [Pierre is busted by the French for interfering with their poor treatment of the people.]



        [In Petersburg society carries on. Vassily reads a decree at Anna’s soiree. Ellen has taken ill.]


        [Ellen dies suddenly. Kutuzov abandons the city.]


        [When the news of surrender is brought to the tsar, he says he will stay and fight when all other resources have been used.]


“Towards the end of the evening, however, as the wife’s face grew more flushed and animated, the husband’s grew steadily more melancholy and stolid, as though they had a given allowance of liveliness between them, and as the wife’s increased, the husband’s dwindled” (1076).

        [Nikolay is the life of the party.]


        [The governor’s wife is going to arrange for Marya Bolkonsky and Nikolay Rostov to date.]


        [Nikolay likes Marya but doesn’t want to marry her.]


        [Without provocation, Sonya wrote Nikolay giving him his freedom. He told Marya that her brother Andrey is being nursed by Natasha.]


        [Thinking Nikolay unable to marry Marya, Sonya releases him from his promise.]


        [Pierre is a prisoner of the French.]


        [Pierre’s position as a P.O.W. doesn’t look good.]


        [For some unknown reason, Pierre is saved from execution.]


“‘Tss…tss…’ said the little man. ‘Sin, indeed,…sin…’ he added quickly, just as though the words were already in his mouth and flew out of it by accident…” (1103).

        [Pierre speaks with another prisoner.]


        [Platon Karataev]


        [Marya comes to the Rostov’s to see her dying brother Andrey.]


        [Marya and Natasha nurse Andrey.]


        [Marya and Natasha nurse Andrey until the end.]



        [How the army got to their best position.]


        [The French have been partying in Moscow, losing strength, while the Russians have been resting with their supplies just outside of town.]


        [The Russians are ready to fight.]


        [The German officers were at a ball, delaying the receipt of important papers.]


        [The Russians had not received the order to move so they would do it the next day.]


        [The Russian attack is unorganized.]


        [Even though it wasn’t perfect, it worked.]


        [Napoleon was wearing down his army.]


        [Napoleon lays down new rules.]


        [Napoleon and his weak and greedy men are caught off guard.]


        [Pierre’s prison group is about to be moved.]


“He often thought now of his conversation with Prince Andrey, and agreed fully with his friend, though he put a somewhat different construction on his meaning. Prince Andrey had said and thought that happiness is only negative, but he had said this with a shade of bitterness and irony. It was as though in saying this he had expressed another thought–that all the strivings towards positive happiness, that are innate in us, were only given us for our torment. But Pierre recognised the truth of the main idea with no such undercurrent of feeling. The absence of suffering, the satisfaction of needs, and following upon that, freedom in the choice of occupation, that is, of one’s manner of life, seemed to Pierre the highest and most certain happiness of man. Only here and now for the first time in his life Pierre fully appreciated the enjoyment of eating when he was hungry, of drinking when he was thirsty, of sleep when he was sleepy, of warmth when he was cold, of talking to a fellow creature when he wanted to talk and to hear men’s voices. The satisfaction of his needs–good food, cleanliness, freedom–seemed to Pierre now that he was deprived of them to be perfect happiness; and the choice of his occupation, that is, of his manner of life now that that choice was so limited, seemed  to him such an easy matter that he forgot that a superfluity of the conveniences of life destroys all happiness in satisfying the physical needs, while a great freedom in the choice of occupation, that freedom which education, wealth, and position in society had given him, makes the choice of occupations exceedingly difficult, and destroys the very desire and possibility of occupation.

“All Pierre’s dreams now turned to the time when he would be free. And yet, in all his later life, Pierre thought and spoke with enthusiasm of that month of imprisonment, of those intense and joyful sensations that could never be recalled, and above all of that full, spiritual peace, of that perfect, inward freedom, of which he had only experience at that period” (1153).

        [Through being a prisoner, Pierre finds himself.]


        [Prisoners and soldiers move out.]


“Pierre did not see the people separately; he saw only their movement. 

“All these men and horses seemed, as it were, driven along by some unseen force. During the hour in which Pierre watched them they all were swept out of the different streets with the same one desire to get on as quickly as possible. All of them, alike hindered by the rest, began to get angry and to fight. The same oaths were bandied to and fro, and white teeth flashed, and every frowning face wore the same look of reckless determination and cold cruelty, which had struck Pierre in the morning in the corporal’s face, while the drums were beating” (1159).

        [Pierre’s epiphanies.]


        [Dohturov was sent to take Fominskoe when there was one French detachment there but now it appears their entire army is there. Does he still attack? They send for advice.]


        [Russian heads are to gather.]


        [The French are leaving Moscow.]


        [What happened at Napoleon’s retreat.]


        [As the French retreat.]



        [Why the French fell apart.]


        [How small groups can defeat larger groups.]


        [Denisov and Dolohov are each in charge of their own irregular band of soldiers. They captured a couple regiments.]


        [Petya Rostov hooks up with Denisov.]




        [Dolohov is on his way.]


        [Petya feels for the little drummer boy taken prisoner.]


        [Dolohov wants to check out the French numbers before attacking. Petya invites himself.]


        [Petya and Dolohov dress like the French and go in fishing for information.]


        [Preparing to capture.]


        [Petya dies in battle. They save Pierre.]


        [Pierre’s plight.]


        [Karataev’s story.]


        [Because Karataev was sick and couldn’t move on, he had his own men shoot him.]


        [Pierre is saved. Petya gets buried.]


        [The French]


“Their chief commander wrapped himself in a fur cloak, and getting into a sledge, galloped off alone, deserting his companions. Whoever could, ran away too, and those who could not–surrendered or died” (1217).


        [How historians write of Napoleon’s final moments.]


“The Russian army had to act as a whip urging on a fleeing animal. And the experienced driver knew that it was better to keep the whip raised as a menace than to bring it down on the creature’s back” (1223).



“When a man sees an animal dying, a horror comes over him. What he is himself–his essence, visibly before his eyes, perishes–ceases to exist. But when the dying creature is a man and a man dearly loved, then, besides the horror at the extinction of life, what is felt is a rending of the soul, a spiritual wound, which, like a physical wound, is sometimes mortal, sometimes healed, but always aches and shrinks from contact with the outer world, that sets it smarting” (1224).

       [Natasha mourns Andrey.]


        [The Rostovs learn of Petya’s death.]


        [Natasha needs to see a doctor for her poor health.]


        [How some Russian leaders wanted to engage the fleeing French only to distinguish themselves.]


“The hatred and contempt of the crowd is the punishment of such men for their comprehension of higher laws” (1236). 

“To the flunkey no man can be great, because the flunkey has his own flunkey conception of greatness” (1238).





        [The camp.]


        [The camp at night.]


        [The camp at night.]


        [The tsar comes to speak with Kutuzov.]


        [The end of Kutuzov’s rein and life.]


“He felt like a man who finds what he has sought at his feet, when he has been straining his eyes to seek it in the distance. All his life he had been looking far away over the heads of all around him, while he need not have strained his eyes, but had only to look in front of him.

“In old days he had been unable to see the great, the unfathomable, and the infinite in anything. He had only felt that it must be somewhere, and had been seeking it. In everything near and comprehensible, he had seen only what was limited, petty, everyday, and meaningless. He had armed himself with the telescope of intellect, and gazed far away into the distance, where that petty, everyday world, hidden in the mists of distance, had seemed to him great and infinite, simply because it was not clearly seen…

“Now he had learnt to see the great, the eternal, and the infinite in everything; and naturally therefore, in order to see it, to revel in its contemplation, he flung aside the telescope through which he had hitherto been gazing over men’s heads, and looked joyfully at the ever-changing , ever grand, unfathomable, and infinite life around him. And the closer he looked at it, the calmer and happier he was. The terrible question that had shattered all his intellectual edifices in old days, the question: What for? Had no existence for him now. To that question, What for? He had now always ready in his soul the simple answer: Because there is a God, that God without whom not one hair of a man’s head falls” (1258).

        [What Pierre found.]


“And Pierre had won the Italian’s passionate devotion simply by drawing out what was best in his soul and admiring it” (1260).

“In Pierre’s relations with Villarsky, with his cousin, with the doctor, and with all the people he met now, there was a new feature that gained him the good-will of all. This was the recognition of the freedom of every man to think, to feel, and to look at things in his own way; the recognition of the impossibility of altering a man’s conviction by words. This legitimate individuality of every man’s views, which had in old days troubled and irritated Pierre,  now formed the basis of the sympathetic interest he felt in people. The inconsistency, sometimes the complete antagonism of men’s views with their own lives or with one another, delighted Pierre, and drew from him a gentle and mocking smile” (1261).

        [Pierre must get back to life. It is better now.]




“And the face with the intent eyes–painfully, with effort, like a rusty door opening–smiled, and through that opened door there floated to Pierre a sudden, overwhelming rush of long-forgotten bliss, of which, especially now, he had no thought. It breathed upon him, overwhelmed him, and swallowed him up entirely. When she smiled, there could be no doubt. It was Natasha, and he loved her.

“In that first minute Pierre unwittingly betrayed to her and to Princess Marya, and most of all to himself, the secret of which he had been himself unaware. He flushed joyfully, and with agonising distress. He tried to conceal his emotion. But the more he tried to conceal it, the more clearly–more clearly than if he had uttered the most definite words–be betrayed to himself, and to her, and to Princess Marya, that he loved her” (1268).

        [Pierre goes to visit Marya and Natasha is there. He loves her!]


        [Marya, Pierre and Natasha are all emotional remembering Andrey.]


“Pierre told the tale of his adventures as he had never thought of them before. He saw now as it were a new significance in all he had been through. He experienced now in telling it all to Natasha that rare happiness given to men by women when they listen to them–not by clever women, who, as they listen, are either trying to remember what they are told to enrich their intellect and on occasion to repeat it, or to adapt what is told them to their own ideas and to bring out in haste the clever comments elaborated in their little mental factory. This rare happiness is given only by those real women, gifted with a faculty for picking out and assimilating all that is best in what a man shows them. Natasha, though herself unconscious of it, was all rapt attention; she did not lose one word, one quaver of the voice, one glance, one twitching in the facial muscles, one gesture of Pierre’s. She caught the word before it was uttered and bore it straight to her open heart, divining the secret import of all Pierre’s spiritual travail” (1274).

“‘They say: sufferings are misfortunes,’ said Pierre. ‘But if at once, this minute, I was asked, would I remain what I was before I was taken prisoner, or go through it all again, I should say, for God’s sake let me rather be a prisoner and eat horseflesh again. We imagine that as soon as we are torn out of our habitual path all is over, but it is only the beginning of something new and good. As long as there is life, there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal before us. That I say to you,’ he said, turning to Natasha” (1275).

        [Pierre tells his story to Marya and Natasha.]


        [Pierre is making arrangements to propose to Natasha.]


        [Pierre is filled with joy and love.]


        [Natasha loves Pierre.]



“What is the substance of the charge brought in these criticisms? It is a charge brought against an historical personage standing at the highest possible pinnacle of human power, as it were, in the focus where all the rays of history concentrated their blinding light upon him; a personage subjected to the strongest influences of intrigue, deceit, flattery, and self-deception, inseparable from power; a personage who felt himself at every moment of his life responsible for all that was being done in Europe; and a personage, not an invented character, but a live creature, like any other man, with his own personal idiosyncrasies, and passions and impulses towards goodness, beauty, and truth. And the charge brought against this personage is not that he was not virtuous (the historians have no reproach to make against him on this score), but that he, living fifty years ago, had not the same views as to the good of humanity as those have to-day by a professor who had, from his youth up, been engaged in study, i.e. in reading books, listening to lectures, and making notes of those books and those lectures in a note-book” (1286).

“…assuming that the historian, criticising Alexander, will, after a certain lapse of time, prove to be also incorrect in his view of what is for the good of humanity. It is the more natural and inevitable to assume this because, watching the development of history, we see that with every year, with every new writer, the view of what is for the good of humanity is somewhat shifted; so that what did seem good, after ten years, is regarded as harmful, and vice versa. That is not all. We even find in history the views of contemporaries as to what was good, and what was harmful, utterly opposed to one another.

“It is impossible to say of the careers of Alexander and of Napoleon that they were beneficial or harmful, seeing that we cannot say wherein the benefit or harm of humanity lies. If any one dislikes the career of either, he only dislikes it from its incompatibility with his own limited conception of what is the good of humanity” (1287).

“Once admit that human life can be guided by reason, and all possibility of life is annihilated” (1288).

        [The views of historians.]


“But what is chance? What is genius?

“The words chance and genius mean nothing actually existing, and so cannot be defined. These words merely denote a certain stage in the comprehension of phenomena. I do not know how some phenomenon is brought about; I believe that I cannot know; consequently I do not want to know and talk of chance. I see a force producing an effect out of proportion with the average effect of human powers; I do not understand how this is brought about, and I talk about genius” (1288). 

        [How to look at history.]


        [How Napoleon grew by chance.]


        [Alexander. How we cannot see all of life at once.]


        [When Rostov Sr. dies, Nikolay inherits the debt. Sonya he values more as a sister than a love interest.]


        [Andrey and Marya finally talk for real.]


        [Nikolay married Marya but fell in love with farming. His expertise at managing his serfs and land got him out of debt and began to prosper.]


“In the winter he visited their other properties and spent his time in reading, chiefly historical books, on which he spent a certain sum regularly every year. He was forming for himself, as he used to say, a serious library, and he made it a principle to read through every book he bought. He would stand over his book in his study with an important air; and what he had at first undertaken as a duty became an habitual pursuit, which afforded him a special sort of gratification in the feeling that he was engaged in serious study” (1308).

        [Nikolay trying to learn not to fight the Rostov routine.]


“‘Oh, how absurd you are! It’s not those who are handsome we love, but those we love who are handsome” (1313).

        [Andrey and Marya argue and make up.]


“She acted in direct contravention of all those rules. She felt that the arts of attraction that instinct had taught her to use before would now have seemed only ludicrous to her husband, to whom she had form the first moment given herself up entirely, that is with her whole soul, not keeping a single corner of it hidden from him. She felt that the tie that bound her to her husband did not rest on those romantic feelings which had attracted him to her, but rested on something else undefined, but as strong as the tie that bound her soul to her body” (1316).

        [Natasha makes family her entire life.]


       [Pierre loves being a father. Andrey…not so much.]


        [Countess Rostov’s failing health.]


       [Life at Bleak Hills.]


       [Nikolinka loves Pierre and hangs on his every word. Pierre speaks of an anti-government secret society. Nikolay is on the side of the government.]


“Countess Marya listened to her husband, and understood all he said to her. She knew that when he was thus thinking aloud, he would sometimes ask what he had been saying, and was vexed when he noticed she had been thinking of something else. But she had to make a great effort to attend, because she did not feel the slightest interest in what he was saying to her. She looked at him, and though she would not exactly think of other things, her feelings were elsewhere. She felt a submissive, tender love for this man, who could never understand all that she understood; and she seemed, for that very reason, to love him the more, with a shade of passionate tenderness. Apart from that feeling, which absorbed her entirely, and prevented her from following the details of her husband’s plans, thoughts kept floating through her brain that had nothing in common with what he was saying” (1338).

       [Marya worries about Nikolinka’s lack of direct ties.]


“‘No, the real thing is that to Nikolay,’ said Pierre, ‘thoughts and ideas are an amusement, almost a pastime. Here he’s forming a library and has made it a rule not to buy a new book till he has read through the last he has bought–Sismondi and Rousseau and Montesquieu,’ Pierre added with a smile” (1340).

       [Nikolenka dreams of battle.]



        [History. The force that moves nations.]


“(1) That history is written by learned men; and so it is natural and agreeable to them to believe that the pursuit of their calling is the basis of the movement of the whole of humanity, just as a similar belief would be natural and agreeable to merchants, agriculturists, or soldiers (such a belief on their part does not find expression simply because merchants and soldiers don’t write history…“ (1351).

“…the histories of culture, towards which all general histories tend more and more to approximate, are noteworthy from the fact that though they give a serious and detailed analysis of various religious, philosophic, and political doctrines as causes of events, every time they have to describe an actual historical event, as, for instance, the campaign of 1812, they unconsciously describe it as the effect of the exercise of power, frankly saying that that campaign was the work of Napoleon’s will. In saying this, the historian of culture unconsciously contradict themselves, to prove that the new force they have invented is not the expression of historical events, and that the sole means of explaining history is by that power which they had apparently rejected” (1352).


        [What is the central force driving humanity? Power?]


        [What makes people follow a leader?]


        [What drives people to seek leadership?]


        [Everything that goes into commanding an army.]


        [Power, commands and movements.]


        [The question of free will and how people try to solve it.]


        [Cause and effect on free will.]


“I raise my arm in order to perform an act independent of any cause, but the fact that I want to perform an act independent of any cause is the cause of my action” (1380).

         [Cause and effect on free will.]









A Perfect Union of Contrary Things

by Sarah Jensen with Maynard James Keenan

Backbeat Books  2016

Foreword: A Punk Psychopomp

“Behind every extraordinary person is a crisis overcome” (vii).

Chapter 1

He was born April 17, 1964 with the middle name of Herbert “after Mike’s father and older brother.” His name would be James. 3

“Divorce papers filed, Judith packed into the VW” with “Jim” when he was three years old.

“Every time I had to make an important decision, I could rely on my own instincts. I could rely on three voices: my head, my heart, and my gut. No outside noise can penetrate a solid sense of self-trust” (7).

His mother, Judith, ends up in the hospital with an aneurysm followed by “two more hemorrhagic strokes.” It was 1976.

Chapter 3

“Count Malcolm Gridley was the larger-than-life myth who allowed no sentimental self-pity, a man behind a mask who offered challenge and comfort. Jim named his alias for Malcolm Young, the AC/DC guitarist who, from the shadows just outside the spotlight, created the rhythms that unified the band’s words and music. He chose as his wizard’s last name Gridley, Judith’s family name” (33).

“Illustrating Jim’s poems were his pen-and-ink drawings of a small, wiry character he called Maynard” (36).

“And his four years in cross country, wrestling, and track meant an even more prestigious honor. In the spring, Jim became the first in the history of the school to earn 12 varsity letters” (41).

Chapter 4

“Jim and his roommates tuned their television to The Young and the Restless…” [Ha! I already knew I loved the guy…]

“…among the few whose scores qualified them to attend West Point’s preparatory school, the first step toward admittance to the military academy” (53).

Sarah Llaguno was on the same cross country team as Jim. She states, “He was always impatient with people who just followed the crowd. He had a name for people like that. He called them tools” (59).

“His roommate, Wayne, bright and personable, welcomed him, and he in turn extended his hand and introduced himself as Maynard” (61).

Chapter 5

Maynard had turned down the West Point invitation and was going to spend the summer with his friend Kjiirt and find old friends he hadn’t seen in three years.

“…Maynard–in his tight leather pants and jacket timed with bleached chicken bones and a coiled bass string–stood out and to everyone’s surprise, was named student council president in the fall” (69).

“‘Maynard was an advocate for justice at all levels,’ Kendall drawing instructor Deb Rickman would later recall. ‘He was all about creating the best possible experience for students'” (70).

It was during this time that he came up with the following lyrics well-known by Tool fans:

Waiting like a stalking butler

Who upon the finger rests.

Murder now the path of “must we”

Just because the son has come.

Chapter 6

During a California visit Maynard met “Adam Jones, a guitarist who spoke of one day forming a band of his own” (113).

Chapter 7

“…his hosts Tome Morello and Jack Olsen and their classmates who’d followed their passions to L.A.–accepted Maynard as one of their own” (117).

Maynard picked up his last check from Petland and left without a college degree.

“Had Maynard read Little, Big with a more analytical eye, he would have noticed in the final chapter Crowley’s hint of that inevitable sense of loss. ‘One of the central feelings of sophisticated modern people is that they somehow missed out on participating in a magical world,’ Crowley explained in a 2014 interview. ‘We only find traces of it in songs and stories and poetry. But we’re always disappointed, because we’re not really in it. And experiencing that magic through movies and books is worse than never having it, because we get exiled when the book’s over'” (121).

“Now that Lock Up had officially dissolved, Tom focused his energies on laying the groundwork for a new band he planned to call Rage Against the Machine, a group he envisioned would push the boundaries of metal and challenge political complacency. Determined that Rage would be a cut above the fledgling bands he and Maynard saw at Coconut Teaser and Raji’s, he set about learning all he could to avoid the missteps that had doomed Lock Up. ‘Maynard taught me drop D tuning,’ Morello would recall.”

Morello: “Brad and I had been jamming with both Maynard and Zach de la Rocha. We really liked playing with both of them, and Brad and I had this long phone call to discuss who we should ask to the dance” (133).

Chapter 8
“…his grandmother’s scorn over his punk attire. Maybe she’d been right all along. Had he accepted the West Point invitation, he wouldn’t be scrambling at week’s end for change to buy crickets for the iguanas.” Maynard: “It was that tipping point where you either become a serial killer or a rock star” (138).

Maynard: “Get rid of all the fluff, don’t worry about all that shit. Focus on the point of the story and the sounds and energy that drive it home. The primal scream was the key to making it sound sincere. This thing needed to punch you in the face, back up, extend a hand to hug you, and then punch you in the face again” (144).

Chapter 9

Maynard: “Our songs were telling people to wake up, stop living in hypocrisy, be true to themselves, but that message had to be tempered. There’s an element of humor in all the songs. A friend might say something really funny, and we’d include a verse based on what they’d said. Satire helps push through heartfelt emotions and serious issues. That’s how you punch the big ideas through.”

March 1992, Tool’s EP, Opiate

“The monotony of the highway was tolerable, he learned, if he took comedian Bill Hicks’s advice and embraced the journey. …Hick’s cassettes were in frequent rotation in the tape deck, his satirical monologues an echo of Maynard’s impatience with mediocrity and apathy–and belief in redemption” (162).

April 1993 Tool’s first full-length album Undertow

The band’s mentors were first and foremost the “American lachrymologist Ronald P. Vincent. Tool’s ideology was at last explained…a musical testament to Vincent’s principles: the imperative to fearlessly face both joy and sorrow in order to transform personal pain into healing and enlightenment” (166).

“‘Three Little Pigs’ was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. ‘That was Maynard’s first hit song,’ Manspeaker explained…it all started with ‘not by the hair of my chin-chin-chin.'”

Maynard: “About a month later, I got a package from Bill Hicks. He was in the middle of editing his third album, and he sent me a cassette of the music. He had some questions for me about whether the music fit with the comedy or not. It was called Arizona Bay…my dream…was definitely Los Angeles getting its ass kicked” (169).

“Hicks, Duncan told him, had told only a few close friends about his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.”

A “psychometry practitioner in the Valley” told Maynard the “Paul” was “done.” Could she possibly mean Tool’s bass player? She also mentioned something would be connected to London. “At 11:20 Little Rock time, he reported, Bill had died.” After the show that night, Maynard caught a plane to London.

“For a long time, Maynard had struggled to make sense of the hazy memories that returned sometimes when he least expected: the hours alone in the farmer’s house in Tallmadge, his distant and taciturn stepfather no one dared defy. Perhaps he’d only imagined the furtive glances between the otherwise stern church members when they’d come to the Ravenna house, the sudden silences that even as a small boy he’d known he must never question, the not quite covert touches passed between the adults gathered in the living room on a Saturday evening. The oddly uncomfortable memories might not have been real at all, but fantasies he’d created to cope with Mike’s departure, scenarios he’d dreamt to distract himself from Judith’s infirmities. But fabrication or fact, his narratives had left their trace, a vague sense of confusion and mistrust, of trespass and violation.

“His mother would remember more than he, he was sure, but drawing from her the details was no easy task, and their frequent phone calls that summer left him no more enlightened than before. ‘Judith was blocking things then,’ Maynard’s aunt Pam would recall. ‘She was trying to forget the painful things that had happened when he was a little boy.’

“His unresolved bitterness and fear had inevitably found their way into his lyrics, but Maynard had for a long time sensed an untold subplot, a backstory that would explain his confusion and anger. It would take gentle prodding to reveal the truths that had gone unspoken for decades, truths that once he understood them, could only bring a deeper dimension to his art.

“lEventually, the whole story came out in conversations with my mother and my aunt,’ he explained. ‘It turns out the family included a classic inappropriate uncle. My mother was raped when she was a little girl. That’s what the songs are really about, the cycle of denial and abuse–emotional and physical–that, for all I knew, had been going on for generations.’

“When you’re exposed to that kind of abuse as a young child, you carry it with you, especially when everybody else pretends it never happened. My mother buried the memory of what her uncle had done, and it came out in her own lack of boundaries. She invited people into her home who had questionable boundaries, because that’s what she knew, that’s what she attracted. Then I grew up seeing that, so I learned ‘no boundaries.’

“Having that moral ambiguity could be the makings of a sociopath, but on the positive side, it could be that I think outside the box because I was never confined in one. I’d done some inappropriate things that I wasn’t even aware were inappropriate. But that lack of conventional boundaries helped me push the envelope in other areas. It’s the way I was wired” (178-9).

“Maynard’s was a familiar face at the city’s premier comedy clubs…” (181).

Chapter 10

“Your intuition and your instinct tell you this is the one. When we got to Jerome [Arizona], I thought I was going to pass out, because it was the little town in my dreams” (194).

Chapter 11

Where is Maynard’s vineyard? Somewhere on the outskirts of Jerome, on a southwestern facing slope overlooking the valley and Mingus Mountain. Main Street has a Flatiron cafe and is an hour outside of Prescott.


“In the 27 years since her stroke, Judith’s condition had steadily worsened until she could no longer balance against the kitchen counter while she made dinner.

Chapter 12

Maynard is also drawn to acting. He has appeared in the low-budget movie Bikini Bandits  and a role opposite Ed Asner and RATM’s Brad Will in the indie murder mystery Sleeping Dogs Lie. He was given props for “his deadpan portrayal of bumbling Deputy Sheriff Lance” (242).

“By 2009, Caduceus Cellars was licensed and outfitted and operational” (244).



The Role of Fate in The House Behind the Cedars

Tiffany Akin

Dr. Menson-Furr

Engl 8328

27 Jan. 2010


Charles Chesnutt performs extraordinary feats within the story structure in The House Behind the Cedars: he creates deep and complicated characters, he grapples with social issues of race and prejudice, and he builds suspense throughout the story that propels the reader on to the next page.  One of the most interesting ideas that Chesnutt uses to create interest and drama within the story is the idea of Fate.  During the early part of the story the idea of Fate is more faint and abstract, but as the story deepens Chesnutt begins to use the word “Fate” at certain key moments in the story, leaving no doubt that Fate plays as strong a role as any human character in the story.  Due to the brevity of this format, we will only examine a few ways in which Fate twisted the love affair between George Tryon and Rena Walden in The House Behind the Cedars.

The relationship between Rena and George is the centerpiece of Chesnutt’s story.  The hand of Fate directs their relationship as early as their first encounter.  During the chapter entitled “The Tournament” the crowd is gathered to watch chivalrous men on horseback perform a series of skills of accuracy.  The crowd is going wild and the women are waving their handkerchiefs.  As Fate would have it, Rena’s handkerchief escapes her grip and it flies up into the air.  George spots the flying cloth and scoops it up with his lance before it even touches the ground.  The rider then returns the handkerchief to Rena which, unknowingly for the couple, binds the two of them together for life.  If George had not spotted the errant cloth or some other young man had made the same gesture, things would have evolved differently in both of their lives.

A second twist of Fate occurs at the end of the chapter entitled “Doubts and Fears.”  Rena has been discussing “coming out” with her brother and they decide to surreptitiously test the waters with Tryon by asking sideways questions regarding what he may feel about the black race.  Rena and Tryon are discussing marriage when she points at her nephew’s black nurse and asks, “Would you love me if I were Albert’s nurse yonder?”  Although Rena is referring to the color of the nurse, George receives the question in a totally different light; his answer in the positive refers to the nurse’s job, not her color.  While George feels it would be perfectly fine to marry a nurse and take her away from such drudgery, Rena thinks his affirmative answer means “it would make no difference with him…” (326).   This misunderstanding, or twist of Fate, prompts Rena to answer “yes” to George’s proposal and the next set of circumstances is set into motion.

A precursor to one of the most devastating twists of Fate occurs when Rena begins to have dreams that her dear mother is ill.  Rena has been preparing for her wedding to George, but at the same time she has a series of dreams in which her mother becomes more and more sick.  Due to these fateful dreams, Rena leaves on the eve of her wedding, headed to Patesville to nurse her mother back to health.  If she had not gone Molly may have died, yet Rena’s secret would have been safe… even more secure than when Molly was alive.  Later in the story Chesnutt refers back to the dreams:  “If she had not been sick, Rena would not have dreamed the fateful dream that had brought her to Patesville…” (398).

The most excruciating twist of Fate occurs when both George and Rena are in Patesville at the same time.  Both Judge Straight and Rena’s old friend Frank understand the relevance of having the two lovers running amok in the small town at the same time.  As the two men are busy trying to find and reign in Rena, she is fatefully running around town performing errands for her mother.  They cannot find her soon enough to save her.  Dr. Green and George are together in the doctor’s cart.  As the doctor hops down to perform some task he tells George that if he wants to see a good looking woman he should look inside the drugstore.  George does not even care that much but, just to pass the time, he takes a look.  The scene painted by Chesnutt when Rena steps out of the store is crushingly heartbreaking.  “She stood a moment as if turned to stone” (360).  If the hands of Fate had placed that young woman anywhere else that day she may have gotten away with marrying George and living happily ever after.  Yet would a life of hiding her heritage been carefree?  Perhaps that is to debate in another paper.




Ida B. Wells Project

English 8330

23 Mar 2011

        From her humble beginnings in Holly Springs, Mississippi, no one guesses that Ida B. Wells will grow up to be a revolutionary investigative journalist.  The circumstances of her childhood do not provide a solid platform upon which Wells can leap into a life of progressive thought and action. Her parents are both slaves and Wells is the oldest in a long line of eight siblings.  It is fortuitous that the young woman’s father sees fit to educate her because Wells spends the rest of her life educating others about the plight of the newly emancipated Negro. When her parents and younger brother die of yellow fever Wells is forced to quit school and take on a paying position as a teacher and in this way supports the entire family.  According to a timeline found on the Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation website, in 1879 “[a]n aunt invites Ida to move to Memphis, Tennessee where she quickly finds and accepts a teaching position in the Shelby County school system.” As Wells works as a teacher she also begins editing small scale church newsletters which whet her appetite for the idea of disseminating information directly into black homes.

        One incident in particular not only provides an interesting first-person narrative for The Living Way newsletter, but also sparks Wells’ imagination to focus her writing on social change.  Wells has been a victim of the Jim Crow laws while riding the train. Wells writes about the fact that she “had sued the railroad company for attempting to expel her from the ladies’ car” (Gates & McKay, 676).  The topic is prescient, personal and interesting to her audience: it gives them a stake in the lawsuit’s outcome. (In 1887 the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned Wells’ former win against the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad.)  Using the pen name “Iola” (probably adopted from a Frances Harper novel entitled Iola Leroy) Wells’ train/court stories “were reprinted in newspapers throughout the country” (Gates, 676).  Given a public forum in which to tell these stories increased Wells’ appetite for publicly renouncing obvious wrongs that occur on an hourly basis to the newly emancipated black contingent of U.S. citizenry.  Her next topic of scrutiny is the one that will not only get her run out of her home base of Memphis but will forever connect her name to a cause: U.S. anti-lynching laws.

        In her preface to Southern Horrors Wells seems to take up the pen with a heavy heart and gives an overview of her purpose: “Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against that sinning, and it seems to have fallen upon me to do so.  The awful death-roll that Judge Lynch is calling every week is appalling, not only because of the lives it takes, the rank cruelty and outrage to the victims, but because of the prejudice it fosters and the stain it places against the good name of a weak race” (25-6).  Writing about her experience with injustice on the train opens Wells’ eyes to an even more insidious and widespread injustice taking place around her; one that is sanctioned by law: the act of lynching. During these dark days mobs regularly gather to capture and hang someone from a tree whom they feel has committed an offense or broken a societal law.  When Wells learns of the lynching of people she actually knows she begins to turn her considerable writing skills toward activism against lynching. Little does Ida B. Wells recognize that her decision to use the press in service of protecting the rights of her race and pointing the finger directly at offenders will set a groundbreaking precedent that would carry on within the ink of newspaper print for generations to come.

        In order to understand the importance of Wells’ decision to make use of the press to bring to light social injustice, we must first get our footing in the rhetorical situation of her day.  When Wells begins writing the United States has just undergone a little more than a decade of reconstruction after the Civil War. Yet simply because the blacks are no longer enslaved does not mean our nation’s troubles instantaneously disappear.  “With slavery officially outlawed, the white south moved quickly to protect its interests by codifying the very white supremacist ideology that had undergirded the chattel slave system” (Gates, 543). Wells experiences the Jim Crow laws such as blacks and whites having to travel in separate train cars.  In 1883 the U.S. Supreme Court rules that congress can regulate only state action regarding racial discrimination, not private action. In the years 1888-9 one hundred and sixty-three Negroes are lynched along with one hundred and forty-four whites. Disenfranchisement begins with the “Mississippi Plan.”  According to information found in a timeline of African American history provided by the National Humanities center, in order “[t]o minimize the number of black voters, Mississippi institutes a literacy test, a poll tax, and the ‘grandfather clause’” and during the next two decades “most Southern states pass similar laws.”  

        Thirty-five years before Wells is born the first attempt to run a black newspaper is made by Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm.  They run Freedom’s Journal for two years which then becomes The Rights of All which only lasts two more years.  About forty-two years before Wells sets up shop, Frederick Douglass resolves to launch his own newspaper, The North Star.  “In part Douglass wanted to prove that a black run newspaper could succeed; in part he needed a forum from which to express himself freely, without consulting his former mentors…”(Gates, 386).  All of these shifting circumstances are morphing the social and political landscape in the day of Ida B. Wells. It was in 1889 that “Wells becomes part owner of the black-run Memphis newspaper, The Free Speech and Headlight and continues to write under the pen name Iola” (Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation).  Wells runs and writes for the paper for three years before an incident occurs that will change not only Wells’ life, but her legacy forever.

        According to the Wells Foundation timeline, on March 9th, 1892, “three friends of Wells—Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, and William Steward—were lynched outside of Memphis.  The three men owned and operated a store called the People’s Grocery, a business the competed successfully with a white-owned store nearby.”  These incidents so shock and enrage Wells that she tears off an incendiary indictment, using her newspaper as a platform to strongly denounce the practice of lynching.  She recognizes that Southern people will often say lynching is used as a punishment against black men that rape white women when Wells knows this to be an outright lie. Her first anti-lynching editorial uses such sure and strong language that it sends (probably the same) white mob into frenzy and they burn the news office to the ground.  Ms. Wells is advised to never return to Memphis. A more direct form of censorship do not exist, yet the threat to life and limb do not dissuade Wells from her anti-lynching campaign. The timeline states: “Wells begins to investigate the lynching phenomenon from New York where she writes for the African-American newspaper, the New York Age.  Her findings are complied and published in the fall in a story titled Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.

Some of the particulars of her findings written in the above book are as follows: 

  1.  That lynching may be claimed to be a punishment for rape, but many white women use the accusation of rape in order to cover up an affair or explain giving birth to a mulatto child.
  2. That though rape is often proffered as the reason for the lynching, any numbers of reasons (or none at all) have been given as sufficient to hang a person.  Wells is fond of using lists and lines up lynching statistics for any given year. Beside the number of those lynched there is a reason given for that particular hanging.  Some of the reasons on record are: no cause, unknown cause, mistaken identity, bad reputation, giving evidence, refusing to give evidence and unpopularity.
  3. That the white press is only making things worse.
  4. That “[t]here is little difference between the Antebellum South and the New South” (47).
  5. That “[t]he white man’s dollar is his god, and to stop this will be to stop outrages in many localities” (50).

        As mentioned earlier, Wells has consequences occur due to her truth-seeking.  Her business is burned to the ground and she cannot return to her adopted hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.  Yet Wells escapes with her life and from new posts up North she continues to write and rally against racism.  She protests the lack of African American participation in the Chicago World’s Fair. She helps found the National Association of Colored Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  In information found in the Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation timeline, in 1913 Wells “turn[s] her reformist energies towards winning the vote for all African-Americans; particularly women. She forms the first suffrage club for black women in the state of Illinois; the Alpha Suffrage Club.“  In 1931 Wells dies in Chicago, yet her creativity in using the medium of the newspaper as a tool for social reform sets the stage for decades of media pioneers to follow.

        The activism and writing of Wells carries the country well into the Harlem Renaissance which lasted roughly from 1919-1940.  “In particular, the second half of the decade witnessed an outpouring of publications by African Americans that was unprecedented in its variety and scope” (Gates 953).  Harlem, New York appears during these years as the African American artistic capital of the world. Blacks begin to be published by the “establishment” publishers, the housing conditions are better than in the south and there is an explosion in every form of art from the writing of plays to the expansion of jazz, the celebration of dance and the emergence of new cultural and political goals.  We can see Wells’ influence on men of the Renaissance who are eager to own and run their own African American newspapers. From Charles Johnson to Marcus Garvey, the new African fully exercises the power of the pen by disseminating information, collecting stories, poetry and artwork and relishing the power of creating their own propaganda. “Of these, the most important was almost certainly the Crisis, edited by the brilliant scholar…W.E.B. Du Bois…” (Gates, 955).  Du Bois and Wells are connected through the NAACP: Wells helps found the organization and Du Bois launches the Crisis as a mouthpiece for the group.  Just as Wells is forced to migrate northward in order to carry on her work, Du Bois also suffers negative consequences due to using printed media to further his leftist politics.  The repayment for speaking his mind is “his forced retirement from Atlanta University in 1944 and his firing in 1948 by the NAACP from his position as director of special research” (Gates, 688).  Wells’ anti-lynching campaign morphed into Du Bois’ anti-nukes campaign and the U.S. government tries to indict him as a “subversive agent.” Even though the charges do not stick, Du Bois kind of becomes a man alone on a desert island although this isolation does not deter him from speaking his truth.

        There is a link connecting the times and people of the Harlem Renaissance to the age of modern African American journalism and his name is Thomas Fleming.  Mr. Fleming is “the longtime executive editor of Reporter Publishing Company, Northern California’s leading chain of African American newspapers” (Millard).  While the Harlem Renaissance proper is winding down on the east coast Mr. Fleming is gearing up for a life-long vocation in journalism in San Francisco. He is founding editor for the Reporter newspaper and for years writes, on average, three articles a week and in the spirit of Ida B. Wells, he tends to focus on human rights.  Through his work with the newspaper Fleming has the opportunity to meet other men of letters that keep African American progress foremost in the writing of their day.  Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes and others are the types of prolific movers and shakers that inspire and influence the journalism of Fleming. One of his articles entitled “Marcus Garvey Comes to Harlem” provides historians with a direct link from early twentieth century newspapermen to those of more recent times.  Yet our linking connections from Ida B. Wells to the Harlem Renaissance to Fleming would not be complete without one last backward glance to African American journalism during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.

        As Fleming is writing in San Francisco, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is writing about his experience as a pastor in the south and how he becomes a vocal advocate for the idea and practice of nonviolent resistance.  Dr. King is influenced by Gandhi and shares his philosophy that “…no individual or group need submit to any wrong, nor need they use violence to right the wrong; there is the way of nonviolent resistance. This is ultimately the way of the strong man” (102).  King brings our story full circle back to Memphis, Tennessee where he, another African American activist and writer, is being “punished” for having the guts to confront social problems in America. As Martin Luther King Jr. is being shot down at the Lorraine Motel in 1968 a newspaperman by the name of Earl Caldwell stands by his side.  Just as Ida B. Wells has been witness to the lynching of her grocery store-owning neighbors, seventy-six years later Caldwell is a journalist witnessing the racial hatred and confusion that continues into the Age of Aquarius.  

        Civil Rights activists and journalists alike know that Caldwell covers the activities of the Black Panther party and is writing his pieces for the New York Times.  According to information found through the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Caldwell is the center of a mighty struggle between himself as a journalist keeping his sources confidential, and the federal government’s attempts to confiscate Caldwell’s personal notes and research.  The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. As Tiffany Shepard learned in her personal interview with Caldwell during her stint at Hampton University, the Supreme Court ruling “resulted in a landmark First Amendment decision on reporter’s rights to protect confidential sources. ‘The ruling was unanimous.  The court ruled that the First Amendment protected a reporter’s information, notes and confidential sources, ‘said Caldwell, ‘and it protected the reporting process.’” Unlike all of the journalists examined previously in the paper, Earl Caldwell was never run out of town or out of business. It is some relief to see that with the passage of time and America’s tentative steps toward racial equality that Caldwell is still teaching and writing about civil rights.  Bringing media all the way into the digital age, we can see from Earl Caldwell’s’ Facebook page that he “is writer-in-residence at the Robert C. Maynard Institute” mentioned earlier in this piece.  

        A Facebook page is a long way from the days of a small Negro newspaper co-owned by Ida B. Wells in 1889.  By keeping her eyes open and her mind analyzing Wells is able to bring forth the discussion of race and rights and use journalism as a tool to bring these issues to the public.  Wells set the precedent, and set it with such a high bar that her shoes are quite difficult to fill. Yet we see people step forth, people such as W.E.B. Du Bois during the Harlem Renaissance, Thomas Fleming bridging the gap and Earl Caldwell bringing us into the age of Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers during the Civil Rights era and beyond.  Newspapers and in-the-moment journalism keep the world ever-present with the changing and prescient issues of our day. Thanks to Ida B. Wells, the tradition of truth-telling through journalism has been an exciting and often terrifying journey that all Americans are privileged to experience.
Works Cited

Gates, Henry and Nellie McKay.  Introduction. A Red Record. By Ida B. Wells-Barnett.  The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.  W. W. Norton and Company, New York: 676.

King, Martin Luther.  Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.  Harper and Row Inc. 101-107.

Millard, Max.  “Thomas Fleming, ‘Good Soldier’ of San Francisco’s Black Press, Retires from Sun-Reporter at 89.” Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco.  28 July 1997.

Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. “The Caldwell Journals.” 2000. Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Web. 23 Mar 2011.

Shepard, Tiffany. Interview with Earl Caldwell. National Visionary Leadership Project. 2006.

The Making of African American Identity. “Timeline: 1860-1920.” Volume II: 1865-1917. Jan 2006. National Humanities Center. 15 Mar 2011.


Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Preface. Southern Horrors. By Ida Be. Wells-Barnett. On Lynchings. Humanity Books, New York: 25-6, 47, 50.

Wells, Ida B. (family). Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation. 22 April 2010. Web. 21 Mar     2010.


W.E.B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk

Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Is the book a coherent whole or a set of disparate essays? Explain.

After examining the themes of each individual chapter of The Souls of Black Folk I feel that instead of the text hanging together as one entire body, it more reflects different viewing points on one particular topic. Obviously, the progress of the African American was the one unifying topic that ran throughout the finished book.   I understand that Mr. Du Bois wrote all of these pieces as essays and was later asked if he would allow his essays to be collected into a book.  I can easily see the differences of mindset between the chapters.

In chapter one Du Bois asks how the race should progress and in what directions now that they have been emancipated?  In chapter two the aim is to understand and criticize the freedman’s bureaus and other emancipation agencies that were formed during that time.  In the same way, Du Bois examines and criticizes Booker T. Washington’s views in chapter three.  Chapter four completely switches gears by discussing the meaning of African American progress.  Skipping ahead to chapter seven, Du Bois writes from a unique amalgam of cartographer and sociologist while discussing the various Cotton Kingdoms in Georgia. Chapter twelve examines a true human character in Alexander Crummel while in the very next chapter Du Bois creates two fictitious peripatetic young men both named John who are forever changed by their color and education.  I would venture to say, and this is only a guess, that the forethought and afterthought, along with the chapter-opening sorrow-songs, were added as a coalescing element to the final form of the book.

Let us look for some type of grouping of these chapter topics.  What we find is some observations, ideas and guidance in the form of chapters 1, 4 and 9.  There are geographical studies in chapters 5 and 7.  There are examinations of those living in chapters 3 and 12.  Du Bois  gives a directive in chapter 6.  There are informative chapters in 8, 10 and 14.  In my opinion the chapters that most fall from form are 11 and 13.  Chapter eleven takes us to an extremely personal space with Du Bois.  In this chapter we witness the birth and death of his child.  The only consolation Du Bois offers is that he feels death for his child would be preferable to his life behind the Veil.  “Better for this nameless void that stops my life than a sea of sorrow for you” (742).  Of the many difficult things Du Bois describes in vivid detail in his novel, “Of the Passing of the Firstborn,” in my opinion, is the most heart-wrenching.

The chapter that seems to fit the least, or makes its most awkward debut in the novel, is chapter 13, “The Coming of John.”  This, one supposes, is a fictional story of two young men, one black one white, both carrying the name of John.  Both go off to school, and upon returning home their lives are changed forever.  White John ends up raping black John’s sister, black John avenges his sister’s honor, killing White John, and in the end John Jones is hung for the murder.  Not only does the chapter stand out as a fictional piece, which does not play the role in any other parts of the novel, it is also a somewhat odd mixture of intellect and pathos that makes no one happy in the end (not that this is the goal).


Question two: discuss philosophical differences between Du Bois and Washington

I find the philosophical differences between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington interesting because these two vantage points give the reader a window into the multi-faceted struggle of the emancipated black race.  Du Bois devotes Chapter Three in The Souls of Black Folk to discussing Washington’s “…programme of industrial education, conciliation of the South, and submission and silence as to civil and political rights…” (699).  As one can easily tell from the variety and depth of Du Bois’ writing, the man was highly educated and won a scholarship to Yale as well as a Ph.D. from the University of Berlin.  Perhaps because he well understood the intellectual levels that could be attained by an African American, he seemed to sneer at Washington because he felt Booker T. had allowed commercialism to kill his fire for higher education.  Further, Du Bois feels that Washington’s “…educational programme was unnecessarily narrow” (700).  Du Bois chafed against the idea that the freedmen should study mostly industrial arts and concentrate on the accumulation of wealth; he felt everyone should be able to acquire the type of education that would take a student as far as their abilities and desires would take him.  Du Bois solidly believed in college and university-level aspirations that were within the grasp of the new aged black man and he disagreed with anyone steering them away from such untapped possibility.

Du Bois also did not find value in Washington’s philosophy of submission to the white race.  In one way, Du Bois felt that this submission “overlooked certain elements of true manhood” (700).  Du Bois also felt that the idea of allowing the white man to believe he was still running the show was an outdated way of handling this new found freedom in America.  Not only that, by working within the former paradigm of one race being submissive to the other, Washington was by default admitting that his own race was inferior.  Naturally, if one believes they are equal to another they will not stand for any form of degradation or prejudice.  Du Bois resides on the other side of the coin by believing that a man who demands respect will earn respect.  This point is very poignant for Du Bois as he says that Booker T. Washington is to be especially criticized for his leniency on the white race.  “His doctrine has tended to make the whites, North and South, shift the burden of the Negro problem to the Negro’s shoulders…” (707) while white America stands back and analyze the scene from afar.  Du Bois did not condone violence but felt the black race must insist on the “rights which the world accords to men… (708).




Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk.  The Norton Anthology of African American       Literature. Henry Gates, Jr. ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004.

What Does Cooper Gain?

What Does Cooper Gain?

1: Another forum of discussion

        I note that your question “What does Cooper gain by ending her book with arguably its most philosophical chapter?” reflects upon the title of the chapter itself. The text answers the question by stating “The Gain from a Belief.” Right away Cooper sets up an “us vs. other” scenario. She imagines a figure watching the mass of humanity with “restless eyes” and drops a variety of negative connotations related to this figure. Cooper makes use of words such as solitary, cold, haggard, and deserted to give the reader the idea that whoever the stranger, you are thankful not to be him. Cooper using this tool–a way of setting up an “us vs. it” mentality–is interesting at this juncture of her text because heretofore her message has been one of coming together; let us each lend a helping hand. Cooper uses this “half cynical, half sad” (286) contenance as a symbol of “earth’s skepticism.” Here is her introductory idea: “speculative unbelief…unimpassioned agnosticism, that thinks–face to face with hobbling, blundering unscientific faith, that works” (287). Cooper gains another medium–in this instance religion–in which to elaborate upon her beliefs in a way that is hopefully uplifting and persuasive to her audience. The entire book consists of Cooper’s personal position on topics from womanhood and literature to the actual worth of a human being occupying the earth. Cooper primarily gains another forum to press forth her philosophy.

2.  To teach

        Cooper also gains the means to teach others about atheism and agnosticism. She may be illuminating otherwise unexplored areas of thought for her readers. She continues to use this teaching as a way to separate herself (and hopefully her adherents) from what she views as the robotic, inhuman thought processes of the non-believer. Cooper states that the atheist views man as no more than the sum of parts in a clock, “a brute” or “a plant that grows and thinks” (288). She wants to impart the idea that there are those among us who feel man has no morals and may “need to be restrained, probably, as pests of society” (289). Cooper wants her audience to know that according to the world of science, there is no God. Here, the author gains the advantage of teaching her audience about alternate philosophies; there are a plethora of ways to view God, religion and the way the world and humanity work. She does not teach these ideas in a neutral voice. As Cooper is dispensing information, she is also displaying a bias, which she certainly has the right to do.

3.  To evaluate systems of belief

        A third “gain” Cooper reaps in this final chapter is a basis upon which to persuade her audience that a belief in God and the practice of religion serves a positive force in our community. By elaborating on two or three differing beliefs regarding a higher power, Cooper is able to set up her argument for one side (belief/faith) and against another (atheism/agnosticism). Belief = good; non-belief = bad. Cooper’s argument is far from Rogerian and is laden with value judgments weighing each system of belief in the hopes she will convince her audience that Christianity will take them the farthest in life. For example, Cooper states that a Mr. Ingersoll, “the American exponent of positivism” fills his “Why I Am an Agnostic” essay with “a glittering succession of epigrammatic inconsistencies…” (293-4). She paints anyone who does not share a belief in God as being a lonely, sad wanderer that has very little, if any, feeling regarding our human struggle. During her persuasive anti-agnosticism stance she states that in that alternate point of view “…God and Love are shut out…the human will but fixed evolutions of law…morality a lie…responsibility a disease” (295). These types of inflammatory statements would have anyone (especially those less educated and hearing such things for the first time) running for the church to huddle under the shroud of religion to save themselves from such unsavory characters! Cooper describes key characteristics that healthy nations need to survive and uses them to work against the non-believers: “…there cannot be heroism, devotion, or sacrifice in a primarily skeptical spirit” (297). She invokes the image of Christ as being one of beliefs: “Jesus believed in the infinite possibilities of an individual soul” (298). For Cooper’s time and audience, I believe her argument to be ultimately persuasive given the way she attacks the issue. She has already proven herself to be a voice of reason and intelligence in her earlier chapters. She dispenses her ideas in a way that teaches a percentage of her audience something new, and she places a value on these alternative philosophies in which she concludes that belief in God is the superior point of view and action.