Anna Karenina Part 4, Chapter 5 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 4, Chapter 5 Summary

The waiting room of a famous St. Petersburg lawyer is full when Alexey Alexandrovitch arrives, and a harrowed clerk tells him he must wait his turn to see the busy lawyer. Alexey Alexandrovitch realizes it will be impossible to maintain his anonymity, so he gives the clerk his card and asks him to deliver it. The clerk is not impressed by what he reads but delivers the card.

The lawyer soon appears, a squat little man dressed as if for a wedding. His face is clever but his clothes are "dandified" and in bad taste. He invites Alexey Alexandrovitch into his office, and Alexey Alexandrovitch insists on strict privacy. The lawyer smiles and says that is the nature of his job, and it is obvious to Alexey Alexandrovitch that the man already knows who he is. Throughout their entire consultation, the lawyer stops to catch the moths that fly over his desk.

After Alexey Alexandrovitch explains his desire for a divorce, the lawyer can barely suppress a laugh. His eyes are gleeful at the thought of a profitable job, but there is also a "malignant gleam" in them, much like the one in Anna Karenina's eyes. Alexey Alexandrovitch assures him this is just a consultation, as he will pursue the divorce only if it can be done in accordance with his requirements. The lawyer looks studiously at Alexey Alexandrovitch's feet, afraid his client will be offended by his amusement.

Finally the lawyer rather gleefully explains the forms of divorce available. Alexey Alexandrovitch only nods when a response is required of him, and soon the choices are narrowed to one: "adultery by mutual consent." It is a disturbing idea, and Alexey Alexandrovitch does not at first comprehend that this would be a sensible choice, so the lawyer helps him understand it. If two people can no longer go on living in the same house and both people are in agreement about the need for a separation, the details and formalities become insignificant, making this the simplest and most certain method of divorce.

Now he understands, but Alexey Alexandrovitch has religious scruples that will prevent such a plan. He tells the lawyer that only one...

(The entire section is 547 words.)