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Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 6 Chapters 1 5 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 6, Chapters 1–5 | Summary



The next chapters return to Kitty and Levin in the country. The reader learns in Chapter 1 that Dolly and her children are spending the summer with the Levins, because her own country house is falling to pieces. Stiva comes only occasionally. Also visiting is Varenka, Kitty's religious friend; Koznyshev, Levin's brother; and Kitty's mother, because Kitty is now quite pregnant. Levin feels somewhat overwhelmed by all the guests but is making the best of it. The children, their governess, and Varenka make plans to go mushrooming, and Koznyshev asks to come along. Kitty and Dolly have detected Koznyshev's interest in Varenka and are hoping for a happy outcome.

The Shcherbatsky women stay behind with Agafya Mikhailovna to make raspberry jam in Chapter 2, and they talk about courtship. Dolly observes that it was lucky for Kitty that Anna turned up and diverted Vronsky. Kitty and Levin go for a walk in Chapter 3, and she asks whether he thinks there is a chance Koznyshev and Varenka might become a couple. He reminds her that his brother was in love many years ago with a girl who died and that he "lives only a spiritual life" and is entirely devoted to duty. In the woods in Chapter 4, Koznyshev is thinking Varenka has all the qualities "he could wish for in a wife" and determines to propose. Varenka feels herself in love with Koznyshev in Chapter 5, and when he approaches her, she feels both nervous and excited. However, they have only a desultory conversation because Koznyshev changes his mind.


Kitty opens her home to her sister because Dolly's husband is less and less attentive and responsible. Stiva has allowed their country house to go to ruin, no doubt because he has spent the money he should have used to keep it up. Levin is somewhat resigned to the stream of house guests he now has to put up with as a married man. It is fortunate that he loves the Shcherbatsky family, which makes their presence less of a hardship. The small differences of opinion, such as the one between Agafya Mikhailovna and the Shcherbatsky women in how the jam should be made, highlight the torment that Karenin and Anna endure as well as the domestic role that Kitty is learning to master. These distinctions are made explicit by Dolly's comment that Dolly, of course, speaks from experience, married to a poor husband herself.

The secondary scene in these chapters is the courtship between Koznyshev and Varenka. Levin rightly guesses that his brother will not trade his bachelorhood for a spouse, and he expresses some envy that his brother does not have "the weakness necessary" to fall in love. What he really means is that Koznyshev can remain free because he can live without sex and female companionship. When Kitty asks for clarification, he dissembles, saying that he envies Koznyshev's devotion to duty, for which he has sacrificed his life. But, in fact, both Koznyshev and Levin are following their own inclinations, and the single and married states have both benefits and drawbacks.

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