Part 5, Chapter 2 Summary
On the wedding day, Levin follows tradition and does not see his bride until the ceremony. Instead, he dines with three friends: Sergey Ivanovitch, his half-brother; Katavasov, an old university friend and current professor of natural science; and Tchirikov, his best man and hunting companion. They are an animated and original bunch.
They conduct a lively conversation regarding the benefits and drawbacks of marriage, and the general consensus of all but Levin is that being married is likely to keep a man from everything he loves, such as hunting, and take all the joy from pursuits such as farming. Levin does not want to disillusion his bachelor friends by telling them that there are wonderful things in marriage, as well, so he remains silent.
When the conversation turns to fear of giving up the bachelor life, Levin confesses he has no feelings of regret. Without actually using the word love, Levin assures them that just the opposite is true; he is happy to lose his freedom by marrying Kitty. His friends continue to make jokes and toasts until after dinner, when they leave Levin alone to dress for the wedding.
While he is dressing, Levin ponders the conversations with the bachelors earlier that afternoon and asks himself again whether he has any regrets about getting married and losing his freedom. The question amuses him, for freedom is happiness, but for him, happiness is found “only in loving and wishing her wishes, thinking her thoughts.” Suddenly, though, he wonders fearfully whether he even knows Kitty’s thoughts, wishes, and feelings. Now a sense of dread and doubt fills him—doubt about everything.
He wonders whether Kitty might be marrying him simply to avoid being single and might one day realize what she has done and that she does not and cannot love him. Suddenly evil thoughts come to his mind, and he is as jealous of Vronsky as he was a year ago, wondering whether Kitty has told him everything. With bitter despair and anger in his heart, Levin decides he will ask Kitty whether she really wants to...
(The entire section is 537 words.)