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Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 6 Chapters 11 15 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 6, Chapters 11–15 | Summary



In Chapter 11, the hunters stay in the hay barn of a muzhik (peasant) who always feeds Levin and puts him up when he goes hunting. Stiva and Levin get into a friendly argument about whether the railroad magnates are dishonest to amass huge fortunes without actually doing any work. Stiva counters that his friend's position is somewhat hypocritical, because the peasants work a lot harder than Levin does. Stiva also remarks that Levin is too considerate of his wife because he discussed with her whether he should go hunting. "A man must be independent," he says. Levin sarcastically asks him if that includes courting farm girls, which is what Veslovsky is doing—and, indeed, Stiva joins him while Levin goes to sleep. The next day, Chapter 12, Levin gets up before the others and hunts with more success, and in Chapter 13 he returns mid-morning with a bagful of game.

The next day, in Chapter 14, Princess Shcherbatsky presses Levin to agree to take Kitty to Moscow for her confinement and her child's birth. Meanwhile, Veslovsky continues to act with too much familiarity toward Kitty. Levin asks her if there was something "indecent ... in his tone," and she has to agree. Levin talks to Dolly about his distress in Chapter 15, and she explains that Veslovsky's flirtatious behavior is simply how young men nowadays act. Levin then goes to Veslovsky's room and tells him he's harnessed the horses and he needs to leave, although both Stiva and the old princess object.


In these chapters, Stiva and Levin have a discussion that continues to reveal how far apart they are in their moral values. Levin objects to Stiva's friendship with a railway magnate—someone who is buying up land and holding it in reserve until the time comes when it can be used to lay railroad track. Levin objects to this form of capitalism—making money at a profit without doing any actual work. But Stiva calls Levin a hypocrite because he is much richer than his peasants. He tells his friend to "either admit that the present social arrangement is just and then defend your own rights, or admit that you enjoy certain unjust advantages, as I do, and enjoy them with pleasure." While Stiva's argument is insightful, Tolstoy does not appear supportive, appearing sympathetic with the status quo.

Stiva is no more sensitive about his philandering now that his friend is married, even to his wife's sister. He scolds him for being too much at the service of Kitty, and justifies the freedoms that he takes by saying, "My wife will be none the worse for it ... The main thing is to preserve the sanctity of the home." Of course, he violates the sanctity of his home on a regular basis, but Stiva is like the society people who now shun Anna: he and they are not interested in how things are but only in how they appear.

While Stiva is amoral, Levin often succumbs to moral rigidity, which is why he throws the foppish but harmless Veslovsky out of his house. Veslovsky has the manners of a society gentleman, and it was common in society for single men to flirt with married women. But Levin is having none of it, and this cousin's behavior is so intolerable for Levin that he is forced to take drastic measures and violate the rules of hospitality.

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