Study Guide

Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 21

By Leo Tolstoy

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Part 2, Chapter 21

  • Vronsky arrives at the stable, which is manned by an Englishman. (Vronsky reveals to us that he has the ability to speak English.)
  • The name of Vronsky's horse is Frou Frou. He has to resist temptation to check out Frou Frou's number one rival, a horse named Gladiator. Gladiator will be ridden by Vronsky's number one rival, a man named Makhotin.
  • The Englishman says that if Vronsky were riding Gladiator, he would bet on him. Vronsky's pleased with the compliment to his riding skills.
  • As it is, Vronsky is riding Frou Frou. He's pleased to see her. Her body has plenty of flaws, but Vronsky notes that it doesn't matter because she has good blood. He also feels confidence in his own "pluck" and riding ability.
  • The mare is excited. Vronsky also gets excited about the race.
  • The Englishman tells Vronsky that the most important thing to do before a race is to keep cool.
  • Vronsky goes off to visit Anna at her country house.
  • In the carriage, he reads his mother's letter and brother's note.
  • Vronsky gets angry as he reads, since he thinks they have no right to interfere with his relationship with Anna. He knows that if it was an ordinary society love affair, they wouldn't care.
  • At heart he feels like his mother and brother are correct in their concern. This is not a fleeting passion, but an intense love, and he suddenly feels how painful it is for both of them to have to conceal their relationship when they are so exposed to public opinion.
  • Vronsky hates the necessary lies and deceit. He has had a vague feeling of disgust ever since he started the affair. Anna has also been under strain—she can no longer be serene and dignified.
  • Vronsky decides that all the lying must stop. He also decides that they need to abandon everything and to be alone together.

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