Anna Karenina Part 3, Chapter 19 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 3, Chapter 19 Summary

Though Vronsky appears to live a rather frivolous life, he likes routine in regard to his financial affairs. In his early days in the Corps of Pages, he once had tried to borrow some money and was humiliated by a refusal; since then he has never put himself in the position of having to ask. To make sure his business is taken care of, he takes several days a year to put all his affairs in proper order. The day after the races is one of those days. He sets out all of his bills and other correspondence, and Petritsky makes a hasty exit when he sees what day this is.

Vronsky, like most men, prides himself on having a unique set of complexities regarding his financial affairs and on not doing anything dishonorable—as he believes other men would do—to relieve the pressure of his difficult position. Now, though, Vronsky understands it is especially essential for him to clear up financial matters and define his circumstances if he is to avoid encountering difficulties.

Vronsky first addresses his immediate finances, an easy way to begin. He lists all of his assets and finds that he has a mere eighteen hundred roubles to last until the new year. His list of debts, however, is staggering, and he does not have an income to cover them. His father’s estate was never divided between Vronsky and his brother; when his brother married, Vronsky had granted most of his share of the income from the estate to his brother, saying he had no need of the money until he married—which he probably would never do. As a result, Vronsky's yearly income from his father’s estate is only about twenty-five thousand roubles instead of one hundred thousand.

Vronsky’s mother used to send him an additional twenty thousand roubles; however, since he left Moscow and began a love affair with a married woman, she no longer gives him anything. Accustomed to living on forty-five thousand roubles, Vronsky is now in financial straits. He cannot ask his mother for help because she will place conditions on her money. Neither can he ask his brother for money; his brother’s wife thanks Vronsky profusely at every opportunity for his sacrifice, and he cannot bear to make her suffer.

Vronsky decides there is only one course of action: He must borrow ten thousand roubles from a money lender, cut his expenses considerably, and sell his race horses. He immediately sends a letter to someone who has made offers to buy the horses, and he sends for the money lender. He then divides the money he has among the debts he owes. When he is finished, Vronsky writes a cold letter to his mother refusing her offer and her conditions. Finally, he rereads several notes from Anna Karenina and then burns them before meditating on their conversation from the previous day.