Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 12 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 2, Chapter 12 Summary

In the first days after Levin returned to the country from Moscow, he would shudder and turn red when he thought about his humiliating rejection. Nevertheless, he always told himself it would soon be like many other embarrassing moments in his life which seemed mortifying at the time but have since diminished into minor incidents.

Three months have passed and the humiliation is just as painful now as it was at the time it happened. He has no peace because he had dreamed so long about having a family and felt so ready for it and now he is even further from that goal than he ever was. Levin and everyone around him are aware that a man of his age should not be alone, that marriage is the expectation and the norm.

Unfortunately, the place in his heart which is reserved for a spouse has been taken, so even thinking about some other woman is an utter impossibility. He continues to remember the rejection and he still feels shame; no matter how often he tells himself that he was not to blame for any of it, the shame persists. Like any man, he had things in his past of which he could be ashamed; however, it is this relatively trivial but humiliating thing which is the cause of the most shame in his life. This is a wound which will not heal, and on top of his shame is rejection.

Despite all of this, he thinks less and less of the event as every week goes by, and now he is waiting impatiently to hear that Kitty is married, hoping that the news will somehow completely cure him.

Winter turns to spring, and it is a rare and beautiful transition in which the plants, animals, and people all rejoice. With the coming of spring comes a new and stronger resolve in Levin to renounce his past and build for himself a life of significance even on his own. Though his plans for marriage were not fulfilled, he can be proud of his resolution to remain pure. He has nothing else from his time in Moscow to make him ashamed and can look any man in the face without shame.

Levin receives a letter from Marya Nikolaevna telling him that his brother Nikolay’s health has worsened but he will not listen to her advice to see a doctor. As a consequence, Levin makes a trip to Moscow and persuades Nikolay to see a doctor and loans him money to go to a place to recover his health. He also works on his farm and finds himself satisfied and content with his solitary life. The only thing he really misses is someone other than his housekeeper with whom he can share his ideas.

Spring is slow in unfolding, but it has finally arrived.