Study Guide

Anna Karenina Part 4, Chapter 21

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Part 4, Chapter 21

  • Princess Betsy is on her way out of Karenin's home when she bumps into Oblonsky, who has come to visit Anna and Karenin. He flirts shamelessly and they gossip a bit about Anna. Oblonsky and Princess Betsy agree that the Karenins can't go on as they have been, that Anna is wasting away and Karenin doesn't understand her. They feel that Karenin must either divorce Anna or else take her away from Petersburg. They part, and Oblonsky goes to visit Anna.
  • Oblonsky finds his sister in tears. Although he's in a great mood, he hides it out of compassion for her unhappiness.
  • Anna explains that she hates Karenin for his virtuousness and generosity.
  • Anna becomes morbid and keeps insisting that her death is the only solution, but Oblonsky keeps interrupting her.
  • He goes deeper into her opinion of the problem, starting with the fact that she married a man almost twenty years older whom she didn't love. He poses the central question: can Anna can continue living with her husband?
  • Anna says she feels like she is heading towards destruction.
  • Oblonsky says that a divorce would solve everything, and judging by her reaction, Anna has simply thought of divorce as an impossible happiness.
  • Oblonsky leaves her to think about it while he goes to speak to Karenin.

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