Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 15 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 2, Chapter 15 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch and Levin arrive at the stand-shooting site, and the men and Laska the dog settle in to watch and wait. As Levin looks around, he notices each wet blade of grass and feels as if he can actually see and hear the grass growing all around him. They hear the sound of a cuckoo and an owl before they finally hear the shrill whistle in the distance for which they have all been waiting.

Stepan Arkadyevitch lights a cigarette and cocks his rifle and then they hear an odd whinnying sound, a prolonged cry as if a colt were frolicking nearby. Levin says it is the sound of the hare and hurriedly readies his own gun.

The next sound they hear is well known to an experienced hunter, a shrill whistle followed by several more; after the third whistle a hoarse, guttural cry can be heard. Levin looks around and soon spots the flying bird against the clear blue sky behind him. The creature is flying straight toward Levin and he utters a guttural cry, as if something strong is being torn. At the very instant Levin is taking aim at the bird with the long neck and beak, Stepan Arkadyevitch shoots it.

The bird drops precipitously and then flies upwards again directly. A second shot is fired and, after several slow seconds of awkward flying, the bird finally falls to the soggy ground below it. Stepan Arkadyevitch cannot see due to the smoke, but Laska has retrieved the bird and laid it at Levin’s feet with great pleasure. Levin congratulates his friend, though he is a bit envious that he had not killed the snipe himself. Suddenly two snipe came too close to the hunters and were promptly shot to the ground.

Before they leave the stand, the men shoot another four birds, though one could not be found. It begins to get dark, but Levin is determined not to leave until he can clearly see the Great Bear constellation in the sky above them. It is still and nearly dark when Levin finally asks Stepan Arkadyevitch why he has said nothing of his sister-in-law’s marriage. Levin feels as if he is serene and prepared to hear whatever news Stepan Arkadyevitch gives him, but he is shocked by the news he gets: Kitty has never had any marriage plans and is now living abroad because she is so sick she might die.

Just as a surprised Levin asks for more details, he and his guest hear the sound of a snipe flying near them. Two shots ring out at once, and then the bird falls with a thud before Laska goes to retrieve it. Levin’s thoughts about Kitty are less intense in the face of this great hunting moment. He hollers at Stepan Arkadyevitch that Laska has brought him the bird.