Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 3 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 3, Chapters 6–10 | Summary

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Summary

In Chapter 6, Levin finishes mowing a large meadow with the peasants and arrives home long after dinner. He finds a letter from Stiva, asking him to go to the family's country estate (Yergushovo) to help Dolly get it in shape for the summer. Stiva is in Petersburg in Chapter 7, supposedly on business but mostly spending money on good times, and Dolly has moved to her dowry estate to reduce family expenses. Stiva was supposed to order the necessary repairs when he came in the spring, but he paid attention to the wrong things. Matryona Filimonovna, Dolly's old nanny, works with the steward and his wife to make the place comfortable.

Dolly derives her joy from her children and in Chapter 8 prepares to take them to the liturgy. She dresses up for the occasion, mostly to "not spoil the general impression" of her beautiful brood. When they get back from church in Chapter 9, Levin is waiting for her to see how he might help, and Dolly tells him the nanny has put things in order. Levin then visits with the family in Chapter 10, and Dolly brings up the topic of her sister Kitty. She steers the conversation toward his proposal and explains that girls cannot pick and choose mates the way men can and thus may not know whom they love when first asked. She asks him to visit Kitty when she arrives, but he refuses.

Analysis

Stiva's selfishness is again evident in his failure to understand what his wife would need in the country. In Petersburg he is renewing his contacts in the ministry, but for the most part he is spending money at the races and on other social activities. The narrator says, "Hard as Stepan Arkadyich tried to be a solicitous father and husband, he never could remember that he had a wife and children." The family owes money all around, which is why Dolly is trying to conserve, even while her husband spends on himself without thinking.

While motherhood comes with many griefs, what little happiness Dolly has derives from her caring for her children and watching them grow. "Had it not been for them, she would have remained alone with her thoughts of her husband, who did not love her." Dolly and Stiva are another unhappy couple, although as a man, Stiva has the ability to build an entire second life outside his marriage. Dolly, on the other hand, cannot even count on her husband's fulfilling his responsibilities as a provider, although she takes refuge in her children.

Dolly's devotion to her family can be seen in the fact that she intercedes with Levin on Kitty's behalf. Despite her own unhappy marriage, Dolly sees the possibility of love, and longs to give this gift to her friends. Levin is not convinced. As a man, he cannot understand the extent to which women do not control their destinies, so what Dolly says largely goes over his head, because he is still nursing a bruised ego.

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