Part 1, Chapter 32 Summary
The first person who meets Anna Karenina at home is her son, Seryozha. He races down the stairs and shrieks at her in his joy at seeing her again before attaching himself to her neck. When she sees her son, Anna Karenina is struck with the same disappointment she felt when she saw her husband; she imagined him better than he is in reality. Though he is a charming child, she must lower herself back to reality before she is able to enjoy him.
Anna Karenina has not had time to drink her coffee before she is visited by the Countess Lidia Ivanovna, a statuesque woman with defects Anna Karenina sees for the first time today. The visitor asks about the reconciliation but, as is typical, is not particularly interested in the details even though she asked the question. Instead she begins to share her distress at being a champion of the truth but not being appreciated for doing so.
The countess begins to tell Anna Karenina about all the disagreements, intrigue, and gossip regarding her meetings and societies, giving Anna Karenina the opportunity to think about what she is hearing. This kind of mindless chatter is typical, but she never really noticed the ridiculousness of it all until today. The countess is interested in benevolence, but she is always angry and makes enemies in the name of doing good works for the sake of Christianity.
After Countess Ivanovna leaves, another friend comes to call on Anna Karenina. She is the wife of the chief secretary and she has come to deliver all the latest town gossip and news; she leaves at three o’clock but promises to come back for dinner. With her husband still at work at the ministry, Anna Karenina is finally left alone. She arranges for her son’s dinner, since he does not dine with his parents, and she puts her things in order before attending to some of her correspondence.
The baseless shame which she felt while on the train has dissipated completely, and she once more feels resolute and irreproachable. When she thinks about yesterday’s conversation with Vronsky at the station, it seems nothing to her now. She answered him as she should have; she did nothing improper and because of that sees no need to speak of it with her husband. In fact, telling him about the exchange would give it an importance it does not merit.
She recalls another incident when a young man declared himself to her and she told her husband about it. All he said was that he had faith that she handled the matter with tact and he would therefore not demean her or himself by being jealous.