Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 8 Chapters 11 15 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 8, Chapters 11–15 | Summary

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Summary

In Chapter 11, the company arrives at Levin and Kitty's house at the most inopportune time, during the mowing and reaping. While he works, Levin is considering the big questions of life. Something a peasant says inspires Levin in Chapter 12, and he thinks people must live for God and not for their own needs. But this brings him back to the problem of God, who is "incomprehensible." Still, God is an idea of what is good. Levin concludes in Chapter 13 that the doctrine of the church does not contradict the idea of "faith in God, in the good, as the sole purpose of man." Thus, a person should serve "the good instead of one's needs." Such an approach makes life worth living. "Can this be faith?" Levin wonders, and thanks God, determining that it is.

Dolly's children meet him as he is driving home in Chapter 14, announcing the arrival of the guests. In Chapter 15, Dolly immediately tells Levin that Koznyshev met Vronsky, who is going to Serbia with a squadron he financed. The men begin talking about the war, and Prince Shcherbatsky and Levin are disturbed that Russians are fighting as private citizens without the permission of the government. Katavasov and Koznyshev disagree and support the Russian partisans, but for different reasons. Levin also says that there are always reckless or desperate people ready to go to war, but his brother argues that the Russian partisans are "the best representatives of the nation."

Analysis

As Levin mulls over the meaning of life, he latches onto something a peasant says, which is that a person should live for God. Because he is not sure that he believes in God, it occurs to him that he can change the axiom to say that one should live for the good and put the good ahead of one's egoistic desires. For now, this is a testament of his faith.

When he gets back to the house, the men begin discussing the war, and as expected, the liberals think that fighting a partisan war for fellow Slavs is a good thing, while Levin and his father-in-law argue that only desperate men go off to fight somebody else's war. Katavasov has talked to some of the volunteers, and he knows that is true, but he has conveniently forgotten what he learned and does not contradict Koznyshev.

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