Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary
Darya Alexandrovna is a worn-out woman doing her best to take her children and leave her husband, but she is too much in the habit of loving him to do so. She knows she is ineffectual with her children even in ideal circumstances, and she knows things would be worse if she left. Still, when she hears her husband walk into her room, she assumes the pretense of packing to leave, though her face betrays her “bewilderment and suffering.” He calls her Dolly and tries to look humble and pitiful, but she can see that he is robust and healthy and she hates his good nature.
Stepan Arkadyevitch tells her his sister is coming, but his wife begins shrieking at him to go away. Stepan Arkadyevitch can usually be calm and pursue his routine with normalcy; however, in the face of this outburst he is undone. There is a lump in his throat and his eyes begin to fill with tears as he expresses his remorse to her until he stops with a sob. He asks her to consider their nine years together in comparison to a momentary passion; he would have said more, but her face shows even more pain and he stops. Again she screams at him to leave her room—and take his passion and his loathsomeness with him.
Rather than leave, Stepan Arkadyevitch breaks down and begs her forgiveness, for the sake of the children if nothing else. Darya Alexandrovna sits down and tries to speak. Her husband waits until she can control her emotions. She does not know which is worse: taking them from their father or leaving them in proximity to such a horrible man. Finally she asks him if they will ever be able to live together again. All he does is whine and ask himself what else he could have done.
Darya Alexandrovna is more convinced than ever that he is a repulsive, dishonorable man who never loved her and has turned out to be a complete stranger. When Stepan Arkadyevitch looks into her face, he is alarmed at the...
(The entire section is 526 words.)