Part 4, Chapter 22 Summary
Stepan Arkadyevitch walks solemnly into Alexey Alexandrovitch’s room and finds him pacing, deep in thought about the direness of his current situation. With unaccustomed embarrassment and timidity, Stepan Arkadyevitch asks to talk to him about his sister and their current situation. With a mournful smile, Alexey Alexandrovitch picks up an unfinished letter and hands it to his brother-in-law.
He was writing a letter to express his thoughts, because he knows his presence irritates his wife. Stepan Arkadyevitch reads that Alexey Alexandrovitch is dismayed by his wife’s misery, is honest in his forgiveness of her, and is now resolved to forget the past and begin a new life with her. While he has no regret about these things, Alexey Alexandrovitch desires only good for her and can now see that she has not achieved that goal. He asks Anna Karenina to tell him her desires, to articulate to him what would give her true happiness and bring peace to her soul, and he will trust her feelings about what is right for him to do.
Stepan Arkadyevitch is moved to tears. Once he recovers himself, he tells Alexey Alexandrovitch that his sister is incapable of expressing her wishes; reading this letter, she would be even more crushed by his generosity and would simply hang her head in silent shame. He believes Alexey Arkadyevitch must lay out for his wife the steps he considers necessary to end this miserable situation. In his view, divorce is the most rational course for married people who have found it impossible to live together.
It all seems so simple to Stepan Arkadyevitch. Alexey Alexandrovitch has thought the same thing thousands of times, however, and to him it is not simple. In fact, divorce seems more impossible now. Their son would pay dearly for such an act, whichever parent he ended up with, but more important to Alexey Alexandrovitch is that by consenting to a divorce, he would completely ruin Anna Karenina. This is what Darya Alexandrovna had told him in Moscow, and the reality has sunk into his heart.
This fact, plus his forgiveness of her and his newfound devotion to the children, keeps him from believing...
(The entire section is 550 words.)