Part 3, Chapter 31 Summary
Levin runs down the staircase to greet his unknown visitor until he hears a familiar racking cough in the hallway. He hopes he is wrong, that it is not his brother Nikolay, but it is he. Although Levin loves his brother, being around him consistently is “torture.” Just now, in his rather depressed state of mind, he is dismayed at the thought of such a difficult visitor. Nikolay knows him well and will bully his younger brother into sharing his current thoughts, which Levin does not feel disposed to do.
Levin feels angry with himself as greets his brother affectionately, and immediately his disappointment turns to pity. Nikolay had not been well the last time Levin saw him; now he looks emaciated with sickness. As Nikolay unwraps his scarf, he smiles at Levin in a humble and submissive way, and Levin’s throat constricts at the sight. Nikolay says he has finally come to see him as promised, now that he is better. Their brother, Konstantin Levin, told him there had been a sale of some family property and that he was due two thousand roubles as his share. Now he has come to see Levin and collect that money; more importantly, though, he has come to visit his family home, connect again with the land, and renew his strength.
Levin takes Nikolay to the library, and Nikolay is as affectionate and good-humored as he was in childhood. Nikolay greets the old housekeeper. As they visit, Nikolay announces he “got rid of that woman,” Marya Nikolaevna. He claims that she was a horrible woman but he does not explain. Most of all, he does not say that he sent her away because she had begun to look after him as if he were an invalid. Instead, he again claims he is thankful that his health has been restored.
As Levin listens, he tries to find something to say in response but can think of nothing. Nikolay senses it and begins asking Levin about the estate. Levin is grateful to be talking about himself so he can speak without lying or hypocrisy about his brother. Nikolay listens but is not interested; the...
(The entire section is 554 words.)