Part 4, Chapter 4 Summary
After Alexey Alexandrovitch met Vronsky on his doorstep, he attends the opera as planned. He stays for two acts, sees and is seen by everyone who matters to him, and returns home. He does not see Vronsky’s military overcoat on his coatrack, and so goes to his room as usual. Tonight, though, he cannot sleep, pacing the room until three o’clock.
He is furious with his wife, who has not kept the proprieties and has violated the one stipulation he gave her: not to bring her lover into his house. Because she did not comply, he must punish her by obtaining a divorce and taking away her son. It is an act fraught with difficulties, but he said he would do it and now he must follow through on his threat. He has been discreetly advised that this would be his best option, and things have progressed enough in society that he might be able to overcome the formal difficulties. This and the tribal reorganization issues he has been dealing with have made him extremely irritable lately.
Alexey Alexandrovitch does not sleep all night, and his fury is at its peak when morning arrives. He dresses quickly and enters his wife’s room with a full cup of anger, nothing spilled, as soon as he hears she is awake. Anna Karenina prides herself on knowing her husband so well, but this morning she sees a firmness and determination in him that she has never before seen.
Without looking at her or speaking to her, Alexey Alexandrovitch goes straight to her desk, gets the key, and starts looking for letters from Vronsky. Anna Karenina shuts the drawer and tells him they are not there—a sure sign to him that they are. He roughly pushes her away and snatches the portfolio he knows must contain the letters.
Anna Karenina calls her husband cruel; however, he claims he has been anything but cruel, allowing her to continue her illicit relationship under the honorable protection of his name. She says he is worse than cruel; he is "base." This prompts a violent reaction, and Alexey Alexandrovitch shrieks in a high-pitched...
(The entire section is 546 words.)