Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 34 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 1, Chapter 34 Summary

When Vronsky left St. Petersburg for Moscow, he left his large apartment for one of his favorite friends, Petritsky. He is a young lieutenant and he is not well connected or rich; in fact, he is nearly always in great debt. Most evenings Petritsky ends up drunk, and he has often been locked up after ridiculous and sometimes disgraceful scandals. Despite all this, he is a favorite of both his peers and his superiors.

Vronsky arrives at his rooms at noon and sees a familiar carriage outside the building. As he rings the bell, he hears voices inside and tells his servant not to announce him. He sneaks into the room and sees Petritsky and another officer sitting on either side of Baroness Shilton, resplendent in her finery, at the table.

There is a comfortable and warm reunion, and the baroness makes them all coffee to celebrate Vronsky’s homecoming. She asks Vronsky if he has brought a wife back from Moscow, something they all expected him to do. He tells them he is not destined to marry. The baroness immediately asks Vronsky’s advice, since her husband is refusing to give her a divorce. Now she wants to sue him because she needs her property; however, he wants her fortune because he claims she has been unfaithful to him (which of course she has).

Vronsky enjoys the lighthearted conversation and gives her some “half-joking counsel,” comfortable talking to her as she expects to be talked to by men like Vronsky. In St. Petersburg, the lower, vulgar class believes that one husband should remain faithful to one woman who is pure when he marries her. These people pay their debts and earn an honest living. This is an old-fashioned and ridiculous group; the real people are everyone else, those like Vronsky and his friends, who abandon themselves to every passion without any thought of the consequences and laugh at everything...

(The entire section is 496 words.)