Anna Karenina Part 3, Chapter 16 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

Start Your Free Trial

Download Anna Karenina Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Part 3, Chapter 16 Summary

At the summer villa, Anna Karenina is preparing to pack and leave for Moscow when she notices her husband’s courier has arrived with a delivery; opening the thick packet from Alexey Alexandrovitch, she finds a pile of money and a letter saying he expects her to join him at their home in St. Petersburg as soon as possible. This morning she had wished she had never spoken with her husband about her love for Vronsky, imagining things would have been better if she had remained silent. Now, Alexey Alexandrovitch is treating the matter as if it had never been discussed—exactly what she had thought she wanted just a few hours before. Her situation seems more awful than she had ever imagined.

Everyone sees Alexey Alexandrovitch as a religious, moral, and principled man; no one but she knows what torments she has endured from him, a man who only seems to be so praiseworthy. He has crushed her life and everything in it. He has ignored that she is a woman who needs to love in order live, and he has humiliated her. Because she could bear her circumstances no longer and had found another man to love, he now will drive her to “worse ruin yet.” If he had killed her or Vronsky, she could have born that fate more easily; instead, Alexey Alexandrovitch will play the role of righteous husband while destroying her.

Anna Karenina rereads the letter and contemplates the threat to take away her son; he does not want the boy, but he knows she is incapable of living without him. When she reads that their life must go on as before, Anna Karenina reflects on how miserable her life had been and wonders how much worse it can get. Asking her to quit loving would be like asking her to quit breathing, and he knows it.

In their new reality, her husband will be at home, happy in the deceit and comfortable in...

(The entire section is 501 words.)