Study Guide

Anna Karenina Part 2, Chapter 34

By Leo Tolstoy

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Part 2, Chapter 34

  • Kitty's father, the elder Prince Shcherbatsky, comes to visit.
  • He and his wife have opposite views on how to act when abroad. He thinks that Continental life (i.e., European life) is oppressive and tries to downplay all his European habits, while his wife practically considers herself to be a Continental lady.
  • Although the Prince is upset about Kitty's newfound friendships (he seems to be jealous), his good humor takes over and he spends time happily with his family.
  • He and Kitty are walking along when they encounter Madame Berthe, who compliments Kitty excessively.
  • Then Kitty introduces the Prince to Varenka. The Prince likes her, and so he refrains from making fun of her.
  • They go to greet Madame Stahl. The Prince was acquainted both her and her husband from back in the day.
  • On the way, they pass by Petrov, the ailing painter.
  • The Prince comments that Petrov looked like he wanted to speak with Kitty.
  • They turn around, and the Prince introduces himself.
  • Petrov says that they were expecting Kitty yesterday.
  • Kitty says that his wife sent word that they weren't going.
  • Petrov yells for his wife and questions her in a conspicuous stage whisper.
  • As the couple argues, Kitty and her father move on to speak with Madame Stahl.
  • Prince Shcherbatsky claims that Madame Stahl isn't sick at all: she just sits all the time because she has a bad figure and doesn't want to show it off. And as for her acts of charity, he points out that it's more virtuous to do good without making sure that everybody knows about it.
  • Suddenly, all Kitty can see of Madame Stahl is a dumpy woman with a bad figure who bullies Varenka. No matter how she tries, Kitty can't recall her idealized vision of Madame Stahl again.

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