Anna Karenina Part 6, Chapter 4 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 6, Chapter 4 Summary

Varenka has never looked more beautiful to Sergey Ivanovitch. She is surrounded by children and is happily looking after them; there is a visible excitement at the possibility of receiving a declaration of love from the man she cares for and he finds her utterly attractive. He cannot stop admiring her and knows he has not felt this way except for once when he was very young. This feeling of happiness at being near her continues to grow until he looks straight into her flushed face and smiles. It is a smile that “says too much.”

Sergey Ivanovitch decides he must have time to think things over and make up his mind rather than act like a boy and react to the impulse of the moment. He walks about forty feet away and stands still, observing nature and noting the stillness. All at once he hears Varenka’s voice as she calls to one of the children, and a smile of delight comes to his face. Conscious of this smile, Sergey Ivanovitch lights a cigar disapprovingly. Watching the smoke rise, he walks and deliberates.

He reasons with himself that this mutual attraction does not contradict in any way with anything he does or believes in his life, and giving in to this passion would not change his duty or his vocation. His only hesitation comes from a vow he made long ago, when he lost Marie and told himself that he would remain faithful to her memory. He realizes that this vow no longer has the slightest importance to him, though breaking it may “detract from his romantic character” in the eyes of others. Apart from that, there is no objection to this match; in fact, he cannot imagine anyone more suitable than Varenka.

Of all the girls and women he knows, Sergey Ivanovitch cannot think of anyone who embodies to such a degree every one of the qualities he wants in a wife. Varenka has all the charm and freshness of youth, yet she is not a child. She is not in the least worldly, has an unmistakable distaste for worldly society, yet she has the ways...

(The entire section is 549 words.)