Study Guide

Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 28

By Leo Tolstoy

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Part 2, Chapter 28

  • Now we get a perspective on the steeplechase race from Karenin and Anna's points of view.
  • Anna sees Karenin looking for her at the race, but decides against saying anything or indicating where she is.
  • Finally, Princess Betsy calls Anna's husband over to them. His presence is repugnant to Anna. Karenin settles into an intellectual conversation with a man nearby whom he knows. The two have generic social conversation about the morality of races as cruel physical contests in which the participants are likely to be injured. (The other guy is against horse racing and Karenin is pro.)
  • Karenin's high voice and fake conversation repulse Anna. She feels that all he cares about is propriety and getting ahead in his career. She thinks that she is a bad woman, but that at least she hates lying, which Karenin has no problem doing.
  • When Vronsky's race begins, however, Karenin can't tear his eyes away from Anna's face. It's strikingly clear that she cares only for Vronsky's safety.
  • The idea that Anna cares for Vronsky's safety forces Karenin to confront Anna's affair: "against his will read on it with horror what he did not want to know" (2.28.30).
  • Anna feels Karenin's eyes fixed on her face as she reacts to Vronsky's racing and can't bring herself to care.
  • More than half the riders in the steeplechase are thrown or hurt—this leaves the audience in agitation over the barbarity of the race.

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