Part 5, Chapter 7 Summary
Vronsky and Anna Karenina have been traveling together for three months in Europe, and they have arrived in a small Italian town where they will stay. The rather contemptuous and condescending Italian waiter turns deferential when he sees the Russian count who has taken the hotel’s best rooms. Vronsky has changed. His hair is longer and combed over the bald patch on his head, and he is longing to find some relief from the boredom of his monotonous life.
Across the room, a gentleman waits for him; after a moment, Vronsky recognizes his old classmate Golenishtchev. The men have met only once since their days together in the Corps of Pages, and that meeting was filled with arrogance and contempt, leaving the men estranged for many years. Though nothing has changed, Vronsky is so eager for some diversion that he greets Golenishtchev warmly and with frank delight. The Russian gentleman’s look of apprehension is replaced with an expression of equal delight, and the men clasp hands in greeting.
Golenishtchev says he has been here for several years; Vronsky announces he is traveling with Madame Karenina, and he shrewdly watches the other man’s reaction. Golenishtchev claims he did not know (though he did) and Vronsky determines that he will be able to introduce the man to Anna Karenina, for he understands how things stand. Over their three months of traveling, Vronsky has gotten used to discerning whether each new person he meets will have the “proper” view of his relationship with Anna Karenina.
In reality, Vronsky and others of his social standing are adept at feigning innocence and ignorance; well bred people generally behave with propriety and do not bother to consider unpleasant questions. Vronsky is even more pleased when Golenishtchev meets Anna Karenina and acts quite properly, veering away from any potentially embarrassing subject.
When Anna Karenina calls Vronsky by his given name and blushes at their introduction, Golenishtchev is charmed by her simple and forthright demeanor. He knows both Vronsky and Alexey Alexandrovitch, her husband, and he believes he understands what she might not: how she could have abandoned her...
(The entire section is 552 words.)