Part 1, Chapters 16-22 Notes from Anna Karenina

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Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapters 16-22

Vronsky's life story is briefly told. He had no family life; his mother was a famous aristocrat and their relationship was strained. Essentially, he doesn't respect most of her life choices and it bothers him when she suddenly intrudes on his life. This relationship between Vronsky and his mother will play a bigger role as the novel unfolds. Vronsky doesn't seem to understand much about his relationship with Kitty--he does not see that he could easily damage her feelings by having affairs. Vronsky is too busy having a good time to worry about anything. Still, he is beginning to get bored of the night life of a city socialite.

Anna enters the picture for the first time. Her arrival has been expected--Stiva has been excitedly awaiting her presence, as he thinks Dolly's sister will be able to help his marriage. Anna's presence certainly begins to change things around town. In fact, Anna affects everyone and everything.

Vronsky is the first to meet Anna. He sees her as she comes off the train. She had been the compartment-mate of his mother, who introduces the two. Immediately, Vronsky is awed by Anna, noticing in her some kind of inner light which shines brightly. The first thing that comes across in Anna is a sense of mysteriousness. You wonder how she could drop her life at home and just come into Moscow on such short notice to see Stiva.

"And as soon as her brother had reached her, [Anna] flung her left arm around his neck and drew him rapidly to her, and kissed him warmly, with a gesture that struck Vronsky by its decision and its grace. Vronsky gazed, never taking his eyes from her, and smiled, he could not have said why. But recollecting that his mother was waiting for him, he went back again into the carriage." Part 1, Chapter 18, pg. 68

Just as Vronsky is falling in love, a major accident happens. It appears the stationmaster has either fallen, or thrown himself, in front of the moving train. Vronsky gives the man's widow 200 rubles to impress Anna. Yet something is strange about this scene. It seems to be a foreshadowing of events to come. Also, it instantly puts a dent in the passion growing between Anna and Vronsky. Most importantly, it associates something entirely negative with Anna's arrival in Moscow: death.

Finally, at the home, Anna convinces Dolly to forgive Stiva. She tells her about Stiva's shame and remorse (all lies she makes up to save the marriage) and tells Dolly that she is the most important thing in the world to Stiva. Anna, it appears, is very manipulative, a trait that would make most people hesitant to trust her.

When Dolly and Stiva reunite, Anna goes to see Kitty. Kitty instantly confides in her, telling her about Vronsky and an upcoming gala. She insists Anna come along, telling her that she should wear lilac.

Anna indeed goes to the ball, but she wears black, pointing to her sense of sophistication. Vronsky can't stop staring at her, and Anna does not appear to be aware of the pain she is causing Kitty. After all, Anna isn't exactly pushing Vronsky away--she is sparkling, bejeweled, and positively enticing. Tolstoy notes there is something "terrible and cruel in her charm." She is a sexual, seductive being.

Topic Tracking: Relationships 2

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