Anna Karenina Part 4, Chapter 11 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 4, Chapter 11 Summary

Everyone in the room is involved in the philosophical discussions except for Levin and Kitty Shtcherbatsky. Levin should have been interested in the discussion of how people can best be influenced, as this is the very thing about which he has been thinking, studying, and writing. Instead, this topic that had once seemed so important no longer holds the slightest interest for him.

Kitty should have been intensely interested in a conversation about the rights and education of women. It is a subject she has often thought about, especially as she considers the painful dependence of her friend Varenka, whom she met while abroad. She has also wondered about her own fate if she were to remain unmarried, and she has had arguments with her sister, Darya Alexandrovna, over this very subject. Now, though, the topic does not interest her at all.

Levin and Kitty are engaged in a conversation of their own, a private and unspoken connection that is drawing them ever nearer to one another. This mysterious communication stirs in both of them a kind of “glad terror” as they enter into an unknown realm of their relationship.

When Kitty asks how he could have seen her pass by in the country so early in the morning, Levin tells her he had been coming home after a day of mowing and a night spent under the stars in the meadow. He describes seeing her carriage approach, her mother sleeping in a corner of the carriage, and what Kitty was doing when she rode by him. She was looking so pensively out of the window that Levin wondered what she could have been thinking and says now that he wishes he knew what she was thinking about that day in the carriage. Though Kitty wonders if she had looked untidy after her long drive, Levin’s look of rapture at the memory assures her she had been presentable. She admits she has no idea what she had been thinking at that moment.

Across the room, Turovtsin, the least learned and least noble man in the room, laughs so well that Levin admires him out loud. Kitty explains she has warm feelings for the man, but Levin says there is “nothing in him.” She disagrees, telling him of Turovtsin’s kindness when he helped her and her sister take care of the children last winter when they all had scarlet fever. Darya Alexandrovna interjects her warm agreement regarding this selfless act, and Levin looks at the man from a different perspective, wondering why he had never until now realized Turovtsin’s goodness. Levin vows, with genuine feeling, that he will never think ill of anyone again.