Part 1, Chapter 15 Summary
Once the guests leave, Kitty tells her mother about the conversation with Levin and is thrilled at the thought of having received an offer despite her pity for Levin. Though she has no doubts about her decision, she has difficulty sleeping as she can still see the hurt in his kind eyes. She feels so sorry for him that tears come to her eyes until she thinks about the man for whom she let Levin go. Once again she feels gladness, thinking about her love for Vronsky and his love for her. She falls asleep to the inner turmoil of guilt, happiness, and doubts.
In the library below, Kitty’s parents are having a typical disagreement concerning their youngest daughter. The prince is outraged that his wife is disgracing herself and ruining their daughter with her “vulgar, stupid matchmaking.” The princess is nearly in tears, asking what she has done that is so undignified.
After her conversation with Kitty, the princess had gone joyfully to her husband to tell him good night without any intention of telling him about Levin’s offer and Kitty’s refusal. She had, however, hinted at an impending offer from Vronsky, implying that things were nearly settled between them and he would declare himself as soon as his mother arrived. That is when the prince had erupted into a passion, even using “unseemly language.”
Now he explains to his wife exactly what she has done. All of Moscow will be talking about how she is setting a snare for this eligible gentleman, and her husband warns her to invite everyone to her parties rather than hand-picking only potential suitors. He is sickened at the thought and says Kitty will not benefit from such machinations. The prince insists that Levin is a much better man than Vronsky, and his daughter has no need to chase after anyone.
The princess still does not understand her faults, and when he begins wrathfully to explain it again, she interrupts and says if he had his way their daughter would never marry so they should just move to the country. The prince is content with the idea and even suggests Vronsky is not in the least interested in marriage. Men, he says, have an eye for such things, and the only man he sees with serious intentions of marriage is Levin.
His wife dismisses the idea, and her husband says forebodingly that she will see but it may be too late, as it was with their daughter Dolly (something she does not want to think about or talk about). The couple parts with a kiss, each convinced of the correctness of his or her position. Kitty’s mother had been sure, at the end of this evening, that her daughter’s future was virtually settled; however, her husband’s words have disturbed her.