Study Guide

Anna Karenina Part 5, Chapter 19

By Leo Tolstoy

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Part 5, Chapter 19

  • Levin thinks of the axiom that wisdom comes from the mouth of babes, not wise men, and thinks about it in regards to his wife and Miss Agatha.
  • Although he considers himself to be more intelligent than either of them, he finds that he and all the other intelligent men on the earth know only a fraction about death when compared to the instinctive knowledge that Kitty and Miss Agatha demonstrate.
  • The two women would not be able to answer deep philosophical questions about death, but they certainly seem to know what to do about death when faced with it. When confronted with the fact of Nicholas's impending death, Levin is paralyzed while Kitty is galvanized.
  • Levin still feels unbearably awkward in his brother's presence. Because Kitty thinks only of Nicholas's well-being, she doesn't have the same problem with awkwardness.
  • Miss Agatha and Kitty don't limit themselves to just Nicholas's physical needs. They also send for a priest and concern themselves with Nicholas's spiritual needs.
  • That night, Levin goes back to his room and feels ashamed. He can't think of anything.
  • Kitty, in contrast, is extremely active. The narrator compares her to a man preparing himself for battle.
  • Levin finds eating, drinking, sleeping—all physical activities—absolutely impossible, but Kitty finds them necessary.
  • It becomes impossible for Levin to eat that night, and it's even harder to fall asleep.
  • They converse about Nicholas's religious needs, and Kitty has a sly look on her face when she addresses this issue. She is convinced that Levin, despite his disbelief, is a good Christian.

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