Part 3, Chapter 24 Summary
Levin is revolted by how he has been managing his land and has lost all attraction to it. Despite the magnificent harvest, he does not remember ever having so many hindrances and disagreements; a night spent under the stars has enlightened him as to the cause of his problems. Watching the peasants’ delight and joy has made Levin envious, and he now understands that the way he has been farming will never be anything but a “stubborn struggle” between him and his laborers in which he will always be the only victor. The result is that neither side is content, and the peasants would only enjoy their work if it were done for themselves.
The landowner must fight for every cent of his profit so he can pay the laborers, and the peasants must fight for the right to work as they are accustomed to working. His goal is to work every peasant as hard as possible while maintaining all the necessary equipment; their goal is to work as carelessly and pleasantly as possible. Reflecting on the past summer, Levin thinks of multiple examples of this.
The peasants were to have mown clover from the worst fields. Instead they mowed the best fields because they were easier to harvest. The hay machine he sent to the fields with them was broken during its first pass because it was no fun for any of the peasants to ride alone without camaraderie. Plows were rendered useless out of carelessness, horses strayed away because those on night watch consistently fell asleep, and several calves died because they were allowed to eat as they wished. None of these things happened because the peasants hated Levin; they happened because the peasants only wanted to work “merrily and carelessly” and gave no thought to their lord’s interests.
Levin has always felt dissatisfaction in his relationship with the land, but now he can deceive himself no longer. Farming as he has been doing it is now revolting to him. Added to that is the presence, a mere twenty-five miles away, of Kitty Shtcherbatsky. He longs to see her and...
(The entire section is 541 words.)