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The day that Koznyshev arrives in the country is one of Levin's most stressful days. Whenever he has time to think, however, the questions of who he is, what he's doing, and what the purpose of his life is, consume his thoughts.
Out on the farm, he wonders why he is so devoted to his work and to overseeing the peasants working. He ponders the inevitability of death, and the pointlessness of all his efforts.
He falls into conversation with a peasant named Theodore (or Fyodor).
Theodore speaks negatively of an innkeeper who takes no pity on peasants who can't pay back the loans he gives them. But another peasant, a wealthy man named Platon, lends willingly and won't press you too hard for repayment. So he comes out short sometimes, but overall, he's still a good, wealthy man. The innkeeper, for Theodore, is an example of a man who lives for his own needs, just to stuff his own belly. Platon, on the other hand, is a man who lives for the soul, and remembers God.
Levin practically yells at him for the definition of remembering God and living for your soul. What does he mean? He sees that this is the key to his philosophical angst.
Before Theodore can finish explaining, Levin runs off with thoughts going nonstop through his mind.