Anna Karenina Part 7, Chapter 31 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 7, Chapter 31 Summary

Anna Karenina is seated on the train, and everyone around her seems hideous and disgusting to her. She imagines people are whispering about her, and even the children are appalling to her. She moves to an empty carriage, near the window and away from the detestable people. Outside her window, a “misshapen-looking peasant” covered with dirt, tangled hair sticking out from under his dirty cap, passes by and stoops to look at the train wheels. Anna Karenina thinks there is something familiar about the hideous man, and then she remembers her awful dream. Shaking with terror, she moves to the opposite door; the conductor opens the door for some incoming passengers and asks Anna Karenina if she wants to get off the train.

She does not answer, and neither the conductor nor the passengers notice her panic-stricken face under her veil. Anna Karenina goes back to her corner and sits down; the couple sits on the opposite side of her and surreptitiously scrutinizes her clothes. They are repulsive to her, but they exchange several remarks solely for Anna Karenina’s benefit. She sees that they are clearly a couple who hates each other—and no one could have helped hating such “miserable monstrosities.”

Once the train is moving, she goes back to thinking about her current circumstances. She cannot conceive of a way that her life would not be a misery, believes everyone was created to be miserable, and everyone simply lives to invent ways of deceiving one another. If people do not see the truth, there is nothing which can be done except escape. One must put out the light when there is nothing more to see.

When she gets off the train, Anna Karenina isolates herself from the crowds of hideous people bustling all around her; she cannot remember why she is here. Finally she asks if there is a message from Vronsky. There is, and he says he is sorry he did not receive her note and he will be home at ten o’clock. It is exactly what she expected, and she is happy that he will be going home to an empty house. She...

(The entire section is 549 words.)