Part 1, Chapter 26 Summary
Levin leaves Moscow the next morning and reaches home in the evening. On the journey he talks with others and is still consumed by shame and confused by new ideas, along with feeling a general sense of dissatisfaction. When he gets off the train, Levin is met by his old driver Ignat, and begins to hear the news about all the minor things which happened when he was gone. Levin feels the confusion and shame begin to dissipate. He feels himself once again and is content; he has no desire to be anyone else. Now all he wants is to be better than he was before, and he begins by resolving never to expect such an extraordinary happiness as marriage and will therefore appreciate what he has.
He will never again let his passions rule him as they did when he humiliated himself by making Kitty an offer of marriage, and he vows to keep track of Nikolay so he can help whenever it is needed—and he feels as if that time may soon be coming. Levin also begins to think of Nikolay’s ranting on communism, something he has never spent much time thinking about, though he has always felt the injustice of his position compared to the poverty of the peasants around him. He has always been a hard worker, but now he plans to work more diligently and live even more frugally than he did before. By the time he reaches his home at nine o’clock, Levin feels resolute and hopeful about his new life.
He is greeted by his housekeeper and his dogs, explaining that he has returned sooner than anticipated because he prefers his home to his friends. As he walks through his house, Levin feels as if all the familiar things he sees are telling him he will never change, that nothing is going to be different. A voice in his heart, however, tells him that the past has no hold on him and he can make whatever changes he wants to make.
The bailiff arrives to tell Levin that a piece of equipment is not working well, which annoys him since it is a machine he invented, but that Pava, his best cow, has calved. Levin takes a lantern and visits the calf in the barn. He is entranced by the splendid little creature before the bailiff once again begins to talk about the business of the farm and Levin is brought back to the reality of life in the country.