The second time through this book, I picked up on and followed a completely different but interrelated theme. Ironically, still centered around Pierre though. This second theme is all about marriage, and how the person you marry really influences your lifestyle and happiness in an all encompassing way. We get to see how this works in Pierre's marriage, and how he is influenced by his decision. His whole life, and much of his searching for peace, are affected by an uncomfortable marriage relationship. We can also see this struggle mirrored in the lives of other people in the book. I think this theme was just a side note to Tolstoy, but a very important message for people in general. We do actually get to see some examples of working, pleasant marriages in the book as well. The contrast is rather striking. Also, the amount of time devoted to the unhappiness marriage can create is huge compared to the amount devoted to the happy marriages. I think this is reflective of how it is in real life. If you are in an unhappy marriage, it can become the whole theme of your life, negatively influencing every other event. But a happy, peaceful marriage becomes the backdrop for everything else. It does influence other events positively, but in a less obtrusive way.
Even though my attention was drawn to a different theme the second time through, I was still aware of the original theme I recognized in War and Peace. I still think of this book as a bit of a project, but one worth the time invested.