War and Peace Questions and Answers
by Leo Tolstoy

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Can someone explain the story told by Hippolyte at the end of Chapter 5 Book 1 of "War and Peace"?

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Reuben Lindsey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Andrew and Pierre are in an argument over Napoleon, and the feeling at the party has become tense.  Hippolyte is trying to defuse this situation, and so he concocts this story.  He demands that the story be told in Russian, in order for the story to be better understood.  But the story doesn't go anywhere.  He talks about a rich woman who tells her maid one day to get the horses ready so that they can go on visits.  Then there is wind, and the maid's hat comes off.  Then the story ends.  There is no point to the story, and no point to having told it in Russian.  Similarly, he is insisting that there is no point to the argument of Andrew and Pierre.  "Prince Hippolyte's social tact in so agreeably ending Pierre's unpleasant and unamiable outburst."  The fight was done, and the atmosphere light once again.

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