Anna Karenina Part 3, Chapter 8 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 3, Chapter 8 Summary

Not until the end of May, after Darya Alexandrovna has gotten fairly settled at the lodge, does she receive a letter of apology from her husband for not making better preparations before she and the children arrived. He promises in his letter to come to her as soon as possible, but she should not expect him soon.

On the Sunday of St. Peter’s week, Darya Alexandrovna prepares her children for church so that they can take the sacrament. While she holds rather unorthodox views of religion, she believes in communion for her children; the fact that they have not received the sacrament in over a year troubles her. For several days, Darya Alexandrovna busily chooses her children’s clothing. Though several crises occur in the process, on the appointed morning the children all wait for their mother at the carriage.

As she makes her own final preparations, Darya Alexandrovna does her best to look nice—not as she used to look before a ball, but nice for this occasion. No one is at church but the peasants and servants, and Darya Alexandrovna notices—or imagines she notices—the sensation she and her children cause when they walk into the sanctuary. The children are as well behaved as they are beautifully dressed. On the way home, they are rather sedate; they seem to understand something solemn had occurred in the church.

At home, however, the children are not as well behaved, and soon there is trouble. One of the boys is disobedient but feels he is punished unfairly. Darya Alexandrovna believes she must uphold the punishment set by the English governess, but when she sees an unexpected act of kindness from another of her children, she is moved to tears.

Soon the children’s Sunday clothes have been traded for their everyday wear, and the group is excited to go out in the wagonette for mushroom-picking and bathing. They gather an entire basket of mushrooms before going to the river, where the children’s shrieks of delight soon float through the air.

It is a difficult task to monitor all of the children—their clothing and their antics—but eventually Darya Alexandrovna joins them in the water. She has always enjoyed bathing and believes it is healthful for both her and her children; soon she is in the middle of her young family, and it is a pleasure for her.

As they are all putting on their layers of clothing, some peasant women picking herbs approach them. They talk with Darya Alexandrovna about bathing and children, and the noblewoman is amazed at how much she and the peasants have in common. Darya Alexandrovna is pleased when she realizes the peasant women admire her most for having so many fine, healthy children. She and the other women share much laughter before they all leave for their respective homes.