Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 5 Chapters 7 10 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 5, Chapters 7–10 | Summary

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Summary

The reader learns in Chapter 7 that Vronsky and Anna have been traveling in Italy for three months and have settled in a small Italian town. Vronsky runs into Golenishchev, an acquaintance from Russia of whom he is not fond, but as a fellow expatriate in a foreign country, whom he is now happy to see. Golenishchev understands his relationship with Anna "in the right way," meaning he neither judges nor asks questions, so Vronsky introduces him to her. The narrator comments that Anna appears "cheerful and happy," despite the fact that she has abandoned her unhappy husband and child and ruined her good name, which seemed perfectly natural to Golenishchev.

In Chapter 8, Anna avoids remembering the painful details of her previous life so that she can enjoy her happiness with Vronsky: "To possess him fully was a constant joy for her," the narrator says. Vronsky, however, is less than happy because he is used to having more occupations. He also has to avoid going out with old acquaintances when he cannot bring Anna. For this reason, he has taken up an old hobby—painting. In Chapter 9, Golenishchev shows up one day and suggests they go to look at the work of another painter and Russian expatriate, Mikhailov, who has been praised in the Russian newspaper. Because he is known for painting portraits, Vronsky thinks he can ask him to paint Anna. When they reach the artist's house in Chapter 10, they ask to see his studio.

Analysis

Vronsky and Anna need to escape from the very painful recent past and get away from the prying eyes of Petersburg society, which is why they go to Italy. Thus begins a pattern in which men of Vronsky's acquaintance will meet Anna and accept their relationship in "the right way," while women will shun her, even though they are happy to socialize with Vronsky. The effect of this social excommunication is that Anna becomes isolated from everyone but Vronsky, which makes her even more dependent on him.

In Italy they are still in their "honeymoon" period, but this problem of being cut off from society will become compounded as time goes on. Vronsky will also experience some isolation as a by-product of people shunning Anna. Moreover, as she becomes more and more dependent on him for her socialization, he will begin to feel more burdened. Two themes are thus reinforced: humanity's interdependence and the need for a vocation. Although the couple at first experiences great happiness in finally being united, as time passes, they begin to grow bored. They both need an occupation, and Vronsky takes up painting to fill up the time. He is extremely pleased to run into Golenishchev, a fellow expatriate whom he actually disliked and would have shunned at home but who provides a diversion in Italy.

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