Study Guide

Anna Karenina Part 4, Chapter 19

By Leo Tolstoy

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Part 4, Chapter 19

  • Karenin failed to consider that Anna might not die, yet his discovery of spiritual joy that accompanies forgiveness is extremely powerful.
  • He forgives Anna, Vronsky, his son, and even the newly born little girl.
  • Actually, Karenin develops a strong sense of affection and fondness for the little girl. He makes a habit of visiting her in the nursery and looking at her.
  • During those moments of looking at the little baby, Karenin feels that his position is perfectly ordinary, and he feels peace.
  • But although Karenin feels that his position is one of great spiritual joy, he knows that others will not think so, and that he will not be allowed to continue as he is. He especially feels a strain in his relations with Anna.
  • Anna is afraid of Karenin. She refuses to look him straight in the eye, and it seems as though she can't work up the courage to say something to him.
  • Towards the end of February, Anna's daughter (also called Anna) falls ill. Karenin orders the doctor to come, and then goes off to work.
  • When he gets back home, Princess Betsy is visiting. This disturbs Karenin, who feels that the women in society have taken an unnatural interest in his life after Anna's affair.
  • He also feels like people are gleeful around him, that they're taking pleasure in his misfortunes. Instead of going to see Anna, then, Karenin goes straight to the children's rooms. He inquires about the health of the baby. The governess speculates that the baby is simply hungry because the wet nurse doesn't have any milk.
  • He orders a servant to again fetch the doctor, this time to examine the wet nurse.
  • He is annoyed at his wife for not being more concerned about her baby.
  • On his way to see his wife, he overhears her conversation with Betsy. It concerns Vronsky and whether Anna should see him before he leaves.
  • Karenin stops, turns around, coughs, and then enters the room.
  • He checks up on Anna's health. Betsy prepares to leave. Anna asks her to stay for a moment.
  • Addressing herself to Karenin, Anna says that Vronsky, through Betsy, has asked to call on the Karenins before leaving for Tashkent. Anna says that her answer was no.
  • Karenin cannot speak easily in front of Betsy, who he feels embodies the power forcing him not to yield to his feelings of compassion and forgiveness.
  • Before she leaves, Betsy recommends that Karenin receive Vronsky, calling Vronsky the "soul of honor."
  • Karenin thanks Betsy for her input but says that the question of whom Anna will receive is a choice to be made by Anna alone.
  • Out of habit, Karenin raises his eyebrows in a dignified manner, and then realizes that he must look ridiculous.
  • Betsy smirks at him as she leaves.

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