Anna Karenina Part 6, Chapter 20 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 6, Chapter 20 Summary

Anna Karenina brings Dolly to see Princess Varvara on the terrace then leaves to gather everyone else. The princess explains that she is here because she has always cared more for Anna Karenina than her sister (the one who had raised Anna Karenina), and now that everyone else has abandoned her she feels it is her duty to help her through this difficult time of transition. Once Alexey Alexandrovitch gives her a divorce, the princess will return to her solitary life; for now, though, she is doing her duty. She cites other couples in such circumstances who have since been received back into society. She praises Vronsky for his lovely home and all the good he does for the village.

Their conversation is interrupted when Anna Karenina brings the rest of her guests to the terrace. The weather is glorious and they have two hours before dinner; they decide to take a walk and then have a row in the boat to see the river banks. They walk in pairs: Anna Karenina walks with Sviazhsky and Dolly walks with Vronsky.

Dolly is a little embarrassed and anxious in this environment. In theory, she justifies and approves of what Anna Karenina has done; and, like most virtuous women, she envies illicit love from a distance. More than anything, though, she loves her sister-in-law and wants her to be happy. Actually being here among all these strangers, however, Dolly is uneasy. What she most dislikes is seeing the princess acting only for the sake of her own comforts.

Abstractly, Dolly approves of Anna Karenina’s running away with the man she loves, but she has never liked Vronsky. She thinks he is proud yet has nothing of which to be proud except his wealth. Against her will, however, she is awed with him in these surroundings and cannot feel quite at ease with him. Dolly asks about the improvements he has made to his house, and Vronsky is eager to share them, delighted at her praise.

The hospital is near, so they go to see it. Sviazhsky ingratiates...

(The entire section is 515 words.)