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Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 2 Chapters 1 5 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 2, Chapters 1–5 | Summary



In Chapter 1, Kitty is in poor health after Vronsky disappears, and the physicians who are called recommend a change in scenery. Dolly, who has recently given birth to another child, arrives in Chapter 2 to see her sister. The reconciliation between her and Stiva has proved superficial, because Stiva spends little time at home and does not give Dolly enough money to run the house. When the sisters are alone in Chapter 3, she asks if Levin proposed. Kitty flies into a rage and attacks Dolly for reconciling with a man who no longer loves her. She immediately regrets what she says, and after the two sisters cry and commiserate, Dolly understands that Kitty is "ready to love Levin and hate Vronsky." Shortly after, Kitty temporarily moves to her sister's house to help care for the children, who have come down with scarlet fever; she then goes abroad with her parents.

Chapter 4 moves back to Petersburg, where Anna is in the highest social circle consisting of three divisions: Karenin's "official service" circle; Countess Lydia's circle of power and influence; and "society proper," which includes people like Vronsky and his cousin, Princess Betsy Tverskoy. Whereas Anna frequented Lydia's circle before meeting Vronsky, she now socializes with Betsy's circle and likes running into Vronsky. In Chapter 5, Vronsky tells Betsy a story about how he's been trying to smooth over a quarrel between one of his officers and a titular councilor, whom the officer has insulted by attempting to pursue his wife.


Kitty is heartbroken after Vronsky drops her so abruptly and has symptoms of physical illness as a result of her mental state. Dolly wants to know whether Levin proposed because she is thinking ahead; later, she will act as a mediator to bring the couple together again. Kitty is mortified because she was rejected and also because she turned down her old friend Levin. But her sister's questions are like salt on her wound, which is why she attacks Dolly. Dolly easily forgives her mean, hurtful words because she is the older sister and knows Kitty is suffering.

Anna's husband Karenin "made his career" in Countess Lydia's circle, which includes the "ambitious men" and "unattractive, virtuous and pious women." Since marrying, Anna has chosen her friends from among these people, but now they seem false to her. She gravitates toward the carefree socialites and handsome and charming men so that she can see Vronsky and bask in his admiration. In a turn of situational irony, he is attempting to smooth over a faux pas that involved the pursuit of a married woman, even as he pursues Anna.

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