Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 28 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 2, Chapter 28 Summary

When Alexey Alexandrovitch arrives at the race pavilion, his wife is already settled among the high society circle. Anna Karenina is acutely aware of his presence, just as she is her lover’s. As she watches Alexey Alexandrovitch, she is repulsed by everything he does, for she knows it is all false and motivated by ambition. She can see that he is looking for her but cannot distinguish her from among the women. Finally Betsy calls to him and he comes to greet them until he spots an adjutant-general and engages him in conversation.

Between races, she hears her husband in a good-natured disagreement with the man, and every word Alexey Alexandrovitch says strikes her as painfully false. When the steeple-chase begins, she is mesmerized by the sight of Vronsky but hears the “loathsome, never-ceasing voice of her husband.” While she cannot endure falsehood, it is the breath of life to him. Anna Karenina has not considered exactly what she wants from her husband, and she realizes her exasperation is probably only the expression of her own inner turmoil.

Alexey Alexandrovitch believes that racing is a base pursuit, though it is certainly above such barbaric activities as prize-fighting or bull-fighting. These riders are trained military men who have specific traits and skills which are signs of development beyond the low sports. Some of the women in the crowd find the races upsetting, but others vow they would have been avid spectators at the Roman coliseum. Anna Karenina does not speak but keeps her opera-glass focused on one horse and rider.

Suddenly Stepan Arkadyevitch hollers a bet with Betsy for a pair of gloves: she bets on Daisy and he bets on Vronsky. Alexey Alexandrovitch begins to speak again about the manly sports when the race begins and he is interrupted by the silence of the crowd. He takes no interest at all in the race or the racers, and he scans the crowd instead—until his eyes rest on his wife.


(The entire section is 526 words.)