Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 33 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 1, Chapter 33 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch arrives home at four o’clock but, as usual, he does not have time to see his wife until dinner, as he must see the petitioners who have come to see him once he arrives home. He comes to dinner in his evening attire, as he will be going out after dinner. His motto is “unhasting and unresting,” and every moment of every day is filled.

There are always guests at the couple’s dinner table, and as he sits down Alexey Alexandrovitch remarks that his solitude is over and he no longer has to be uncomfortable dining alone. During the meal he talks a bit with his wife about matters in Moscow but does so with sarcasm, as usual.

After dinner, Alexey Alexandrovitch leaves but Anna Karenina stays home, though she had several invitations to go out for the evening. Her primary reason for not attending any of them was the matter of clothing. She had ordered three dresses to be altered while she was gone; upon her return she discovered that two of them had not been done and the other had been done incorrectly. When she talked with her dressmaker, Anna Karenina got so angry that she was ashamed to think about it later.

To regain her serenity, Anna Karenina spends the evening in the nursery with her son. The relaxing evening allows her to see that what had seemed so important on yesterday’s train is nothing more than a common incident in fashionable life and there is no shame to be felt. After her husband arrives home at nine thirty, Anna Karenina sits down with him and tells him about her trip, starting with her arrival in Moscow.

When she finishes, he tells her about the act he passed and the ovation he received because of it. After his second cup of tea, Alexey Alexandrovitch heads for his study and asks if his wife found staying at home all night to be dull. She tells him she was not bored and asks what he is currently reading as she walks with him to his study. She knows that he is in the habit of reading every evening and feels compelled to keep abreast of any new intellectual studies or books. Though anything in the arts is foreign to his nature, he reads those works as assiduously as he does books on theology, philosophy, and politics.

Anna Karenina leaves him at the door of his office and reflects that for all his flaws her husband is good-hearted and remarkable in his own field—defending him, though no one has attacked him. Precisely at midnight, Alexey Alexandrovitch comes up to their room and tells her “it is time.” After she undresses she walks into the bedroom, but on her face is none of the joy which earlier flashed from her eyes and her smile. Now that fire seems hidden away somewhere deep within her.