Anna Karenina Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

In early June, Levin's housekeeper, Agafea Mihalovna, slips while carrying some pickled mushrooms down to the cellar and needs a doctor. While the district doctor is at Levin’s house tending to the old woman, he is thrilled to have a chance to spend time in conversation with the renowned Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev. The particularly talkative young medical student is eager to share his advanced views with the learned man.

The physician shares all the local gossip and scandal and complains about how poorly the district council has been performing. Sergey Ivanovitch listens attentively and offers bits of sage advice to the rapt young man. The physician leaves quite content with his visit. Sergey Ivanovitch now wants to go fishing, a “stupid occupation,” according to Levin. Nevertheless, Levin stops his vital work in the fields to take his brother fishing.

It is the turning point of the summer. This year’s crops, which are splendid, are well on their way to harvest, and it is time to begin thinking of next year’s crops. A recurring strain on the peasants, the harvest will soon begin, but now there is a brief pause between one season’s work and the next season's. The brothers must drive through the woods to get to their destination in the meadows. Sergey Ivanovitch spends the journey pointing out many lovely features of the landscape as they pass them. Though he agrees, Levin is disgruntled at hearing his brother talk, for the beauty he sees is diminished by talking about it.

As they pass through the woods into the meadows, Levin’s attention focuses on the work carts and all the familiar sights of the land. Today he is pleased, for it appears the peasants have followed his direction. His mind is now on one of his favorite tasks—haymaking. Something quickens in him when he thinks about mowing the tall grass, and he stops the horse when they reach the meadow.

The grass is still covered with dew. Sergey Ivanovitch asks his brother to drive him all the way to the pond so that his feet will not get wet. Although he hates the thought of crushing any of the grass that will become hay, Levin does as his brother asks. As Sergey Ivanovitch settles himself and his gear to begin fishing, Levin surveys the nearly waist-high grass all around him. He sees one of the peasants with a dead bird hung over his shoulder; a flock of birds had settled over the meadow to eat, and the peasant had scared them away by killing one of them. Levin asks the man’s advice about the readiness of the field for mowing; when they are finished talking, Levin wants to go back and begin giving orders for the task. Sergey Ivanovitch, however, is content to fish (although he has caught nothing) and talk. Levin is weary of these conversations but listens dutifully.