Anna Karenina Part 7, Chapter 15 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 7, Chapter 15 Summary

Levin does not know whether it is late or early. The candles have all burned out and Levin has slept for a bit. He panics when he hears an unearthly scream, but the doctor listens and smiles approvingly. Everything is so extraordinary than nothing strikes Levin as strange in this moment. The scream has subsided, but something has changed. The women are suddenly intent on Kitty, and when Levin sees her he is convinced that Kitty will not survive this ordeal. She tries to comfort him and tell him she is not afraid, but when a sudden paroxysm of pain strikes her, she yells at him to go away for she is dying.

Though everyone tries to comfort him, Levin knows it is all over for his wife. He had long ago stopped caring for the child; now he begins to loathe it. Levin asks what is happening, and the doctor tells him it is “the end.” Levin takes this to mean that Kitty is dying, of course, and the sounds he hears confirm his worst fears.

He goes to see Kitty, prepared for the worst, and finds her looking extraordinarily lovely and serene. She tries to smile at her husband but cannot. Suddenly the far-away world in which Levin has been living for the past twenty-two hours fades away and he is brought back in an instant to the present world by a “radiance of happiness” he has never before known. It is too much for him to bear, and he begins to sob with such violence that his entire body shakes. For a long time, Levin is incapable even of speaking.

Levin finally falls to his knees next to the bed and holds his wife’s hand, kissing it. Kitty responds weakly. In the meantime, the midwife has placed a little human bundle at the end of the bed. Levin hears her say that the child is a boy as she slaps the child on the back. Kitty weakly asks her mother if it is true, and the old princess answers only with her sobs. In the midst of the silence which follows, there is the unmistakable sound of a new creature asserting himself into his world, squalling to announce his presence.

Before this, absolutely nothing about these circumstances would have surprised Levin, but as he re-enters the world of reality he has to work to make himself understand that Kitty is alive and that he has a son. Levin is “unutterably happy,” though he is having trouble getting accustomed to the idea of a son.