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War And Peace 692


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them wholly on that one thing and yet was unable to accomplish all that she considered necessary. There were then as now conversations and discussions about womens rights, the relations of husband and wife and their freedom and rights, though these themes were not yet termed questions as they are now; but these topics were not merely uninteresting to Natasha, she positively did not understand them. These questions, then as now, existed only for those who see nothing in marriage but the pleasure married people get from one another, that is, only the beginnings of marriage and not its whole significance, which lies in the family. Discussions and questions of that kind, which are like the question of how to get the greatest gratification from ones dinner, did not then and do not now exist for those for whom the purpose of a dinner is the nourishment it affords; and the purpose of marriage is the family. If the purpose of dinner is to nourish the body, a man who eats two dinners at once may perhaps get more enjoyment but will not attain his purpose, for his stomach will not digest the two dinners. If the purpose of marriage is the family, the person who wishes to have many wives or husbands may perhaps obtain much pleasure, but in that case will not have a family. If the purpose of food is nourishment and the purpose of marriage is the family, the whole question resolves itself into not eating more than one can digest, and not having more wives or husbands than are needed for the family--that is, one wife or one husband. Natasha needed a husband. A husband was given her and he gave her a family. And she not only saw no need of any other or better husband, but as all the powers of her soul were intent on serving that husband and family, she could not imagine and saw no interest in imagining how it would be if things were different. Natasha did not care for society in general, but prized the more the society of her relatives--Countess Mary, and her brother, her mother, and Sonya. She valued the company of those to whom she could come striding disheveled from the nursery in her dressing gown, and with joyful face show a yellow instead of a green stain on babys napkin, and from whom she could hear reassuring words to the effect that baby was much better. To such an extent had Natasha let herself go that the way she dressed and did her hair, her ill-chosen words, and her jealousy--she was jealous of Sonya, of the governess, and of every woman, pretty or plain--were habitual subjects of jest to those about her. The general opinion was that Pierre was under his wifes thumb, which was really true. From the very first days of their married life Natasha had announced her demands. Pierre was greatly surprised by his wifes view, to him a perfectly novel one, that every moment of his life belonged to her and to the family. His wifes demands astonished him, but they also flattered him, and he submitted to them. Pierres subjection consisted in the fact that he not only dared not flirt with, but dared not even speak smilingly to, any other woman; did not dare dine at the Club as a pastime, did not dare spend money on a whim, and did not dare absent himself for any length of time, except on business--in which his wife included his intellectual pursuits, which she did not in the least understand but to which she attributed great importance. To make up for this, at home Pierre had the right to regulate his life and that of the whole family exactly as he chose. At home Natasha placed herself in the position of a slave to her husband, and the whole household went on tiptoe when he was occupied--that is, was reading or writing in his study. Pierre had but to show a partiality for anything to get just what he liked done always. He had only to express a wish and Natasha would jump up and run to fulfill it. The entire household was governed according to Pierres supposed orders, that is, by his wishes which Natasha tried to guess. Their way of life and place of residence, their acquaintances and ties, Natashas occupations, the childrens upbringing, were all selected not merely with regard to Pierres expressed wishes, but to what Natasha from the thoughts he expressed in conversation supposed his wishes to be. And she deduced the essentials of

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