Anna Karenina Part 6, Chapter 21 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 6, Chapter 21 Summary

Vronsky asks to walk Dolly home so they can have “a little talk,” and an astonished Dolly says she would be delighted. Dolly’s imagination thinks of many requests Vronsky might make of her: to bring her children and come stay with them, to create a circle of friends who will accept Anna Karenina in Moscow, to talk about his part in Kitty’s illness. All of them are unpleasant but none of them are correct.

Because she has so much influence with Anna Karenina, he asks for Dolly’s help. That is all he says for a long while as they walk in silence. Finally he says that he believes Dolly came to visit not because she thinks their situation is normal but because despite their circumstances she loves Anna Karenina and wants to help her, which is true. Dolly begins to speak but Vronsky stops her, saying he is the most aware of his lover’s difficult situation and feels it most deeply because he sees himself as the cause of it.

Dolly suggests that, though it may be difficult, Vronsky is exaggerating their position. He erupts and says she cannot imagine the horrific two weeks they spent in St. Petersburg in which Anna Karenina was a moral outcast. Vronsky says he knows Anna Karenina is happy, but he wonders if it will last. Whether they have acted rightly or wrongly is of no importance now, for there is no changing the past. He and Anna Karenina are “bound together for life” by ties that are most sacred. They have one child and may have others, but a thousand other complications are ahead of them which she does not see or want to see. Vronsky cannot help seeing them. His own daughter, by law, does not even belong to him and he cannot bear it.

One day they may have a son. No matter how happy they may all be, that son will not bear his name or be able to inherit his property. There will be no official tie between Vronsky and his children. When he has tried to speak of this to Anna Karenina, she finds it irritating and does not understand...

(The entire section is 552 words.)