Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 28 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 1, Chapter 28 Summary

After she has said her last good-bye and is on the train, Anna Karenina is relieved that the connection to Vronsky is over and tomorrow she will be home with her son and husband. Life will continue as it always has, nice and usual.

She settles into her compartment along with other ladies and knows she is not likely to find much entertainment among the group. Instead she gets out an English novel and tries to read. Unfortunately, she is finding it difficult to concentrate. There is the fuss and movement of an entire train getting settled in, and outside the wet snow is pelting against the train window. A muffled guard walks the aisle and people are fretting about the snowstorm outside.

There is shaking and rattling and movement in a repetitive loop; the same is true of the heat and the cold, and her maid Annushka is already asleep. Soon, though, Anna Karenina is able to concentrate on her book and actually understand what she is reading. Before long, though, she grows discontent with what she is reading. It is distasteful to her to read about the lives of others, for she wants to live those things herself rather than “follow the reflection of other people’s lives.”

If the heroine of the novel is nursing a sick man, Anna Karenina longs to move noiselessly in the man’s room; if a member of Parliament is giving a speech, she wishes it were her speaking to the assembled group. Since there is no chance of such things happening, however, she forces herself to read. As the hero is about to achieve his baronetcy and an estate—the epitome of English happiness—Anna Karenina begins to feel as if the hero should feel ashamed. When she also feels shame, she asks herself what she has to be ashamed of and puts the book down.

She ponders exactly what happened in Moscow, the moments with Vronsky, and she examines her conduct. Nothing she did deserves to be thought of shamefully, and she finally picks up her book once more. Now, though, she is completely unable to concentrate on it and finally sets it aside. Her thoughts grow rather fantastical and she begins almost to hallucinate as the train continues traveling to St. Petersburg.

Finally she is forced back into reality by a muffled guard shouting that they have stopped at a station. Anna Karenina gets out for some much-needed fresh air.