Anna Karenina Part 5, Chapter 6 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 5, Chapter 6 Summary

After the ceremony of plighting troth is over, a pink satin cloth is placed on the ground as the choir sings a complicated song. The couple walks to the altar to meet the priest, and there is much speculation in the room about who stepped on the pink carpet first; the tradition is that the one who steps on the carpet first will be head of the household. The couple pays no attention to the crowd or the carpet as they move to the altar. (Some say he stepped on the carpet first; others say they stepped on it at the same time.)

There the priest asks the customary questions about whether they are free to marry, and their answers sound strange even to themselves. Kitty tries to listen to the prayers but is too swept away by a flood of happiness, making her unable to concentrate on anything around her. She only hears the last of the prayer, which binds them together and asks that their union be fruitful and blessed. Kitty smiles, thinking that is just as it should be, and her unconscious smile is reflected on each face in the crowd, which is beaming back at her.

Levin, too, looks at Kitty and is struck by the joyful radiance of her face. Like her, Levin is overjoyed at their marriage. Together they enjoy the reading of the epistle, drinking out of the cup of warm wine and water, and being presented as husband and wife to the glory of God. The last prayer is read and the sentiment in the room is the same as what's radiating from the bride’s smile.

Levin looks at Kitty; never before has she looked as she does now, with a new radiance on her face. Seeing that countenance, Levin longs to speak to her but is not certain the ceremony is over. The priest soon puts him out of his misery and kindly gives Levin permission to kiss his wife.

Levin kisses his new bride with tender care and takes her arm. With a strange new feeling of closeness, Levin walks with his wife out of the church. Something in him does not believe it, that it is still only a dream for which he has long hoped. Only when their timid eyes meet does he believe it, for then he knows that they are one. That night, after supper, the couple leaves for the country.