Part 8, Chapter 5 Summary
Vronsky walks up and down the platform in his long overcoat, slouched over with his hands stuck in his pockets. He is pacing like a “wild beast in a cage” and pretends not to notice Sergey Ivanovitch when he approaches; that does not deter him in the least from speaking to Vronsky. In that moment he sees Vronsky as a noble man willing to fight for a cause, and he considers it his duty to show his appreciation and to encourage him. When he approaches Vronsky, the pacing man stands still long enough to recognize Sergey Ivanovitch and steps forward to greet him warmly.
Vronsky says there is no one he would “less dislike seeing” than Sergey Ivanovitch; it is the best he can say, since there is nothing now in life for him to like. Sergey Ivanovitch understands, seeing the man’s face full of unmistakable suffering, and offers to write a letter of introduction for him to King Milan. Vronsky is not in the least interested, for there is no need for a letter of introduction to meet death.
Sergey Ivanovitch thanks him for his willingness to serve, noting that when a man of his stature volunteers, he raises the public estimation of all volunteers. Vronsky dismisses the praise, glad that there is something for which to give his life, as it is now loathsome and useless to him. Vronsky has a gnawing toothache which prevents him from even speaking with his natural expression, adding to his misery. Sergey Ivanovitch predicts he will find something noble and worth living for when he is able to deliver his fellow men from bondage.
Vronsky can hardly speak due to the pain in his mouth, but as he watches the coal car running smoothly on the tracks, a new, internal pain causes him great anguish. Seeing the car on the tracks and talking with a friend whom he had not seen since the incident both remind him of Anna Karenina—or...
(The entire section is 501 words.)