HomeLiterature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 2 Chapters 3035 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 2, Chapters 30–35 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 30 moves back in time to the spring of Kitty's heartbreak, when she goes to a German spa with her parents to improve her health; they learn that also staying there are Levin's brother Nikolai and his wife. Kitty observes and is drawn to a young woman named Varenka, a companion of a high-society Russian woman, Madame Stahl. Varenka is a selfless soul who, in addition to tending to Madame Stahl, looks out for the most gravely ill at the spa. In Chapter 31, Princess Shcherbatsky makes the acquaintance of Varenka, who was brought up by Madame Stahl, and Varenka and Kitty become friends. Both Varenka and her guardian are religious women, the reader learns in Chapter 32; Kitty is impressed both with their philosophy and Varenka's tranquility, and wants to know how they come by it.

In Chapter 33, Varenka's influence begins to help Kitty overcome her grief, and she tries to emulate her new friend, who loses herself in loving and caring for others. Kitty's father, who has been in some other parts of Germany visiting friends, returns and is introduced to Varenka in Chapter 34, and he informs her that Madame Stahl is a Pietist, a Christian who cultivates tranquility through prayer. In Chapter 35, Kitty tries to follow her friend in performing good works but ends up making the wife of one of the invalids jealous. As the Shcherbatskys prepare to leave, Varenka promises to visit Kitty when she marries.

Analysis

These chapters describe Kitty's visit to Soden to "take the waters" at the mineral springs, which were believed to have curative properties. Kitty is attracted to Varenka because of her goodness and seemingly peaceful mind, and looks upon her as a role model. Kitty is a young girl with a broken heart who thinks she will never love again. Because marrying and raising children is the only "career path" Kitty knows, Varenka's way of life looks like an attractive alternative, and she wishes to learn how to make altruism the center of her own life. While this path may work for Varenka, it is not Kitty's path, and she gets angry when she fails to be helpful in her attempt to emulate her Pietist friend. She is disappointed by her father's revelations about Madame Stahl, for whom she previously felt immense admiration, but he helps to bring her back down to earth. Although she has benefited from her friendship with Varenka, Kitty is happy to be returning home so that she can pick up her old life.

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