Anna Karenina Part 5, Chapter 16 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 5, Chapter 16 Summary

Levin joins his wife for tea, and Kitty is reading a letter from her sister Dolly. Agafea Mihalovna is also there, a testament to Kitty’s graciousness. After an uncomfortable beginning in which the housekeeper’s feelings were hurt by a new mistress taking over the duties of the house, Kitty has “conquered her and made her love her.” Kitty hands Levin a letter from Marya Nikolaevna, his brother Nikolay’s former mistress. This is the second letter he has received from her. In the first one, Marya assured him that Nikolay sent her away for no fault of hers, and though she was in want, all she was concerned about was that Nikolay was suffering without her help because his health was so poor. She begged Levin to look after Nikolay.

This letter is quite different. Marya has found Nikolay and they are together again. She has moved in with him and they were living in a small town where he received a position in government service. After he quarreled with the head official, they were going to move back to Moscow. On the journey, Nikolay was taken ill on the road and it is doubtful he will ever get out of bed again. Marya tells Levin that Nikolay has only ever talked of him and has no money left.

Kitty wants him to read an amusing passage from her letter until she sees her husband’s face and asks him what is wrong. Levin tells her that his brother is deathly ill and he will leave tomorrow to go see him. Kitty wants to go with him. Levin asks her reproachfully why she would want to go, and Kitty is offended. She is hurt and asks why her husband does not want her to go with him.

What Levin tells her is that his brother is dying and she should not be there, but what he thinks is that at this most serious moment all Kitty can think about is being left behind, bored and alone. The lack of candor about her motivations for wanting to go infuriates him, and Levin tells Kitty her going is out of the question. It is clear from Levin’s tone...

(The entire section is 554 words.)