Part 5, Chapter 28 Summary
In one of the best hotels in St. Petersburg, Anna Karenina, her daughter, and maid stay in one suite of rooms. Vronsky stays in a separate room. Once they arrive, Vronsky visits his brother and finds that his mother is also there, visiting from Moscow. She and his sister-in-law visit with him as always, and neither of them mentions one word about Anna Karenina. Vronsky’s brother visits him the next day and asks about her directly. Vronsky says he considers Anna Karenina to be his wife; he hopes to secure a divorce and then marry her, and he asks his brother to report his intentions to his wife and their mother. The older brother has nothing against the arrangement, no matter what society has said, and he spends some time visiting with Anna Karenina, as well. They discuss her going to stay at Vronsky’s estate.
Despite his significant social experience, Vronsky is uncomfortable in society for the first time because of the new position into which he has been placed. Given his experience, Vronsky should have understood that society is now closed to the unmarried pair, but he assumes that is an old-fashioned philosophy and that a more modern view will accept their circumstances. He does not expect that they would be received at court, but he is certain their intimate friends “can and must look at it in the proper light.” When he puts it to the test, though, he realizes the world is open to him but not to Anna Karenina.
Princess Betsy is one of the first people Vronsky meets in St. Petersburg; while she greets him joyfully, her enthusiasm wanes when she discovers that there will be no divorce. Despite the likely repercussions, Princess Betsy goes to visit Anna Karenina, though her tone is not the same as in former days. She prides herself on her courage, but she only stays for ten minutes of sharing society gossip before leaving. On her way out, she asks when the divorce will be final and warns that until there is a marriage they are likely to be ignored by most of society.
Vronsky should have gathered from Princess Betsy’s tone what he might expect...
(The entire section is 555 words.)