Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 21 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 2, Chapter 21 Summary

Vronsky arrives at the stables and wants to see his horse; she arrived yesterday and he has no idea what her condition is today. The English trainer advises him not to see her, as she has been muzzled and is rather fidgety, but Vronsky insists. As he walks past the stalls, he catches a glimpse of his chief competitor, Gladiator, a huge chestnut horse with white legs. It is poor etiquette to gawk at someone else’s horse, so Vronsky quickly averts his eyes and walks to his own horse’s stall.

Frou-Frou is nervous, and the trainer says he has faith that Vronsky will win because the steeple chase takes a rider with energy and courage. Vronsky is certain there is no rider in the competition who will have more of either than him, so he is confident. In the stall is a medium-sized dark gray mare, and Vronsky instinctively examines her at every point. She is not a beautiful horse, but Vronsky knows she has what overcomes all defects—a good bloodline. The sturdy horse emanates energy and softness, and as he looks at her now, it seems to Vronsky that she understands everything he feels at this moment.

As he approaches her, the mare is anxious and fidgets; once he stands near her head she grows calm and he pats her reassuringly. Her nervous excitement is infectious, and Vronsky’s heart begins to pound. Both of them are longing to move, a feeling both “dreadful and delicious.” As Vronsky prepares to leave, the English trainer asks where he is going, and Vronsky reacts to the man’s impertinence.

The trainer obviously thinks he knows where Vronsky is going, and he reminds Vronsky that the most important thing before a race is not to get too upset at anything. As Vronsky rides away, the rain clouds which have been threatening all day finally release a downpour. In his closed carriage, Vronsky notes that the track was already muddy and will now be a morass of mud. He finally reads his correspondence.

The missives are just what he expected. Both his mother and his brother want to interfere with his affair of the heart, and it...

(The entire section is 554 words.)