Part 4, Chapter 12 Summary
The discussion about the rights of women includes the inequality of their rights in marriage, but Stepan Arkadyevitch changes the subject while the women are present. When the ladies leave, Pestsov claims that the primary inequality between men and women in marriage is that the infidelity of women is punished differently than the infidelity of men, both by law and by public opinion. Stepan Arkadyevitch hurriedly interrupts him; however, Alexey Alexandrovitch remains calm, determined to show that he is unafraid of the subject.
Turovtsin, warmed by the wine he has drunk, joins the conversation and tells the men of the duel which had been fought earlier that day. Stepan Arkadyevitch is dismayed, fearing the conversation will again trample on his brother-in-law’s sensitive spot; Alexey Alexandrovitch, however, is curious and asks why the duel was fought. Turovtsin says the husband called out his wife’s lover and then shot him as a man should do. Alexey Alexandrovitch responds indifferently. He walks into the drawing room where he finds his hostess alone, waiting for him.
Darya Alexandrovna tells him she wishes to speak to him. Alexey Alexandrovitch says he came to tell her he was leaving, but he sits down. Darya Alexandrovna is firmly convinced that Anna Karenina is innocent. Her lips quiver with anger at this man who so calmly intends to ruin her innocent friend. She begs him to tell her what fault he has found with his wife which would precipitate a divorce.
Alexey Alexandrovitch tells Darya Alexandrovna that his wife has been unfaithful to him. Dolly is incredulous; she insists he must be mistaken. It is impossible to deny facts or be mistaken, he says, when the woman herself spoke of her affair and told him their eight-year marriage was a mistake and she wants to “begin life again.” In spite of himself, Alexey Alexandrovitch says more.
He wishes there were some doubt, but there can be none. He was miserable before Anna Karenina told him the truth, but it was better than what he is feeling now. He once had hope, but now there is none; he...
(The entire section is 541 words.)