Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 13 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 2, Chapter 13 Summary

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” Levin puts on his boots and prepares to do something, though he hardly knows what undertaking he will attempt first. In any case, the work of the farm is important and exciting to him, and he begins his day admiring the cattle which have been let into their paddock. As they bask in the sunlight, Levin turns his attention to their calves. He knows each of these creatures well and he admires their appreciation for the freedom of spring.

All is not well on the farm, however; it appears that many of the farm repairs which he ordered to be done over the winter (and for which he hired three carpenters) have not been done. Observing these things is upsetting to Levin and he calls his bailiff to account for the work which has not been done. On every point of criticism, the bailiff is quick to blame “those peasants” for it. After listening to the excuses and getting angry over work that has not been done and time that will be lost, Levin knows the blame lies with the bailiff.

Waving his hand angrily, Levin gives a few orders to increase the efficiency of the workers and his anger abates. It is too beautiful a day to remain angry for long. He asks his coachman to saddle him a horse and as Ignat prepares the horse, Levin discusses with the bailiff all the projects he wants completed; unfortunately, the bailiff says that plans are good but they may or may not get accomplished. It is an attitude which every bailiff has had, in Levin’s experience. The problem is that there are not enough laborers who are willing to work for the “reasonable sum” he is willing to pay.

Now Levin says his bailiff is always trying to get by as cheaply (both in money and in manpower) as possible, so he will see to the need himself. He enjoys a pleasant ride, dreaming of all the things he would like to accomplish on his farm and all of which begin with work that must be done now. But work on his farm is often shoddy and nearly always behind schedule.

Levin stops to watch several peasants who are sowing clover in a way he finds unsatisfactory, and he dismounts and starts sowing the seed himself. Walking the land is as difficult as walking through a bog, but he feels better for having done it. He continues his ride and sees last year’s crop of clover, looking vivid and magnificent. Though his horse struggles in the mire, Levin makes his way home and appreciates the glorious potential which this spring has for all of his dreams and plans for the farm. He hurries home so he will have time to eat his dinner before going back out to hunt snipe.