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Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 2 Chapters 26 29 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 2, Chapters 26–29 | Summary



The reader learns in Chapter 26 that Anna has chosen to stay at Karenin's country house for the summer, because it is close to Vronsky's barracks. Countess Lydia Ivanovna is avoiding Anna and unsuccessfully tries to discuss Anna's behavior with Karenin. Karenin knows that his wife is unfaithful, but he cannot confront the problem. "[I]n his soul he closed, locked, and sealed the drawer in which he kept his feelings for his family." He has withdrawn from his wife and son and spends very little time at home. In Chapter 27, Karenin goes to the country house before the races to give Anna money for expenses, and she pretends to be glad to see him. Because Anna has already arranged to go the races with Betsy, Karenin will go separately. At the races, Anna feels disgust for her husband, whom she thinks has "nothing but ambition ... in his soul" in Chapter 28. She concedes that she is a "bad woman" but at least does not like to lie, while "lying is food" for her husband.

When Vronsky falls from his horse in Chapter 29, Anna begins to cry. Karenin comes down to where she is sitting, asking her to take his arm so they can leave. In the carriage, he tells her she acted improperly. Once again, he apologizes if he is mistaken in his suspicions, but this time she tells him, "I am his mistress, I cannot stand you, I'm afraid of you, I hate you ... Do what you like with me." Anna then begins to cry again. Karenin says he plans to "secure" his honor.


Karenin's dignity prevents him from acknowledging Anna's affair, which is obvious to everyone in the Petersburg aristocracy. Countess Lydia clumsily tries to take his side by cutting off relations with Anna. It is clear that Lydia is a self-righteous, conventionally religious busybody who also happens to have a crush on Karenin, and she will insinuate herself into his life after Anna leaves him.

As a counterpart to Lenin, Karenin also feels bound by duty, but his duty is to his government, making him into something of an automaton. He believes in the bureaucratic system he works for, and even if it is corrupt, he is not. His conventional nature and difficulty with emotion make him well-suited to his job, but his bureaucratic attitude seeps into his home life.

Clearly, Anna's accusations are self-serving. She cannot claim that she does not like to lie when she is a married woman having a high-profile affair with a handsome and popular man. Her behavior shows how diametrically opposed she and her husband are, and it also calls her accusations of him into question.

Before Vronsky appears, Anna pours all her excess emotion into Seryozha. She disrespects Karenin because she does not understand his restrained response to the affair, because she would act very differently if she were in his place. He genuinely loves her and his son, but he has trouble expressing his emotions. This is why he keeps them locked in a metaphorical drawer. There is a cruelty in her declaration that she hates him and is afraid of him—as he has given her no reason to fear him. Perhaps the factor that is most responsible for her passionate outburst is her understanding of her untenable position as a pregnant woman facing the prospect of having children by two different men.

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