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Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 8 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 8, Chapters 6–10 | Summary



Koznyshev and Katavasov are greeted by Kitty upon their arrival in Chapter 6. She asks Dolly to entertain them until Levin comes, because she has to nurse Dmitri. As she rocks the baby in Chapter 7, she thinks about her husband, tormented by his lack of belief. She smiles when reflecting on his unremitting kindness and care of everyone. Recently, he suggested she give up part of her estate to pay for Stiva's debts so that Dolly would not have to give up more of her property.

In Chapter 8, Levin is struggling with the meaning of life and death, and he cannot find answers in Christianity. It bothers him that he had believed and prayed when he thought he might lose Kitty, but now he does not. Levin has been reading philosophy to find a "non-materialistic explanation of life," but is not able to come up with a coherent and enduring framework to rely on. Although happy with his family life, Levin is "close to suicide" and "hid a rope lest he hang himself with it." He does not. Chapter 10 emphasizes that when Levin does not worry about the meaning of life, he knows what he is and what he is living for. When he only lives, he is conscious of "the presence of an infallible judge" who immediately knows the best course of action. Thus, Levin seems to be two men—one with existential angst and the other with the security of an active man firmly placed in the world.


While Kitty has found the security and fulfillment that eluded Anna, Levin remains unmoored. So long as he possesses a vocation, he seems to be on solid ground. When he is forced to reflect, he drifts. Again, Tolstoy seems to suggest that if Anna had only had a purpose, she might have found a reason to live, while simultaneously depicting motherhood as women's sole purpose.

The ending is reflective of the author's personal spiritual crisis that he endured while writing the end of Anna Karenina. But Tolstoy's crisis lasted for some years and did not have a neat, packaged ending. Ultimately, he rejected not just the novel's conclusion but the novel itself.

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