Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 20 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 2, Chapter 20 Summary

Vronsky shares a Finnish hut with Petritsky, and he is asleep when Vronsky and Yashvin arrive. Petritsky is lying face down on his pillow, his hair is mussed, and Yashvin prods his shoulder and hollers for him to get up. A startled Petritsky raises himself suddenly and tells Vronsky that his brother woke him up and will return later for Vronsky; then he throws a blanket over himself and tries to go back to sleep.

Yashvin persists in tormenting the man in the bed, pulling the blanket off him and speaking with his booming voice. Finally Petritsky gets up, wraps the blanket around himself, and prepares to join Yashvin for a drink. As his friends tussle back and forth, Vronsky puts on his coat and prepares to leave.

He tells them he is going to pay Bryansky for his horse (which he hopes to find time to do after visiting Anna Karenina), but his friends know him well and tease him about going to see the woman he loves. Before he leaves, Petritsky remembers the letter and note Vronsky’s older brother left him and finally pulls them out of hiding.

Vronsky is not surprised at the summons from his mother, presumably scolding him for not having come seen her yet, or the note from his brother which says he wants to talk with Vronsky. He knows they both want to talk to him about the same thing but knows whom he loves and spends his time with is none of their business.

As he leaves his living quarters, he meets several others, as his home is generally a gathering place for the officers of his regiment. They talk about horses for a moment, wondering how Vronsky will be able to ride in the mud and about the status of his competitors’ horses.

Inside, Yashvin is plying Petritsky with several kinds of alcohol as an antidote to the previous night’s drinking bout. The other men are unsympathetic, saying Petritsky did not let them sleep last night with his loud music from the rooftop. One of the men shouts to Vronsky just before he rides off, telling him he should get his hair cut so it will not weigh him down as he races.

In truth, Vronsky is prematurely beginning to bald just a bit, and he laughs at the suggestion as he pulls his cap over the thinning spot and gets into his carriage. He gives directions to his driver, deciding not to postpone any longer reading the letter from his mother and the note from his brother.