Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 1 Chapters 31 34 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 1, Chapters 31–34 | Summary

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Summary

In Chapter 31, Vronsky feels proud that he has made an impression on Anna. When he sees her interact with her husband at the station, he immediately knows she does not love him. At home in Chapter 32 Seryozha is joyfully reunited with his mother, to whom he is strongly attached. Her husband's good friend, Countess Lydia Ivanovna, immediately comes to visit to ask about Anna's peace mission in Moscow, but then changes the subject to talk about the Pan-Slavic movement.

In Chapter 31, the reader learns how Anna's husband keeps a demanding schedule, on which all things must occur punctually. Later in the evening, the couple discusses Anna's trip, Karenin's work, and what he is reading. He follows all the intellectual trends, despite his tremendous work responsibilities. Anna reminds herself he is "a good man ... remarkable in his sphere."

In Chapter 34, Vronsky returns to his apartment where he is putting up a lieutenant friend, Petritsky. Vronsky greets him and his "lady-friend," a married baroness, and a cavalry captain. In Vronsky's world people are "banal" and "stupid" if they think couples should be faithful, that "a girl should stay innocent ... that one should raise children, earn one's bread, pay one's debts, and other such stupidities." On the other hand, the "real" people in Vronsky's crowd are "elegant, handsome, magnanimous, bold, gay," and indulge in their passions without shame or remorse. As Vronsky jokes with his friends, he thinks about whom he needs to start visiting in society so that he can begin meeting Anna.

Analysis

Anna attempts to settle into her old routine, but she clearly sees the negatives in her normal life, which she has not paid attention to previously. For example, Lydia Ivanovna is not really interested in hearing the answers to the questions she asks and would rather hear herself talk. As a Pan-Slavist, she is interested in propagating Orthodox Christianity, but she is angry all the time and has many enemies. Anna dearly loves her son, but even he seems a little disappointing in the first moments she reunites with him. However, she talks herself back into her regard for her husband, remembering his good qualities. The fact that Vronsky has so easily made headway with Anna points to a deep fissure in her relationship with her husband and a strong dissatisfaction.

Vronsky travels with a crowd of amoral and self-indulgent aristocrats who scorn fidelity and other old-fashioned customs and think they have the perfect right to amuse themselves without considering how their actions might affect others. It was not uncommon for both men and women in the circles of Russian high society to carry on sexual affairs outside of their marriages, so long as no one got too serious and everything took place behind closed doors. Vronsky is infatuated with Anna and now embarks on a plan to seduce her, but at this point he has no idea how deeply he will come to feel about her or what it will cost them. Together, they will break the rules of both conventional morality and hypocritical high society.

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