Anna Karenina Part 5, Chapter 19 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

Start Your Free Trial

Download Anna Karenina Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Part 5, Chapter 19 Summary

Levin is like every other man of intellect, men who can talk about death and its eternal consequences but do not know how to act when faced with it. Kitty, though less intellectually developed, understands death and its significance; she knows what sort of thing life is and what death is and would not have even understood the questions Levin has about the end of life. She and millions of others like her look at death, are not frightened of it, and know without hesitation how to deal with the dying. If Levin had been here alone with his dying brother, he would have looked at him with terror and with even greater terror waited, not knowing what else to do.

Even more, Levin does not know what to say, how to look, or how to move. Each time he considers these things, he is too worried about himself, afraid he will do or say the wrong things. Kitty is not concerned about herself at all, does not have time to worry about herself, for she understands there are many things which must be done. She talks with Nikolay about everything, and her care for him goes beyond the physical. In addition to changing his linen, tending bedsores, and seeing that her patient eats, Kitty has been concerned from the very first day about his eternal soul. She has tried to persuade Nikolay of the necessity of taking the sacrament and receiving absolution.

When they arrive back in their own room, Levin sits with his head hanging, not knowing what to do. He is ashamed and cannot think about their own supper or consider what else must be done; he cannot even talk to his wife in this shame. Kitty, on the other hand, is even livelier than usual. She orders food, unpacks, and makes their bed. It is the same alertness and swiftness of action which soldiers have before a battle, as if everything in their lives before now has been a preparation for this moment.

By midnight, their room looks more like home, but neither of them can eat, for a...

(The entire section is 540 words.)