Part 7, Chapter 16 Summary
At ten o’clock, the old prince, Stepan Arkadyevitch, and Sergey Ivanovitch are sitting with Levin in his home. After ascertaining that Kitty is well, the men talk about other things. Levin hears them, but yesterday seems a hundred years ago to him and he studiously brings himself down from the heights of ecstasy to talk with them so he does not hurt their feelings. Even as he talks, though, all he can think about is his wife and the son he almost believes exists. He thinks differently about all women now, and their position is so exalted that it is almost beyond his imagining. As the men talk about yesterday’s dinner, Levin wonders what is happening with her now, what she is thinking, and whether the baby, Dmitri, is crying. In the middle of their conversation, Levin jumps up and goes to see his wife. The old prince asks him to send word if Kitty will see him.
Kitty is awake and planning the christening ceremony with her mother. When she sees him, Kitty gives him a welcoming smile which again seems to Levin to change her face from earthly to unearthly. The same flood of emotion which he experienced immediately after his son was born again floods Levin’s heart and he is not even able to speak. Kitty tells him she has rested, but her demeanor changes when she hears her son’s cry. She asks the midwife to bring the baby to her so he can meet his father.
The midwife brings something “red, and queer, and wriggling” to the bed where she powders and rewraps the baby for presentation to his father. Looking at the tiny bundle, Levin struggles to find some fatherly connection to the boy, but all he feels is disgust. But when the midwife unclothes him and Levin sees the tiny, perfect fingers and toes, he is suddenly afraid the midwife is going to hurt his son and actually holds her hand back from touching the baby.
The midwife laughs, says she will not hurt...
(The entire section is 532 words.)