Anna Karenina Fridays – Week 7


This week for the Anna Karenina read-along hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables, I read up to Part V Chapter XV.  This week’s reading combined a lot of cultural information with some exciting and interesting plot twists.

Obviously, this week’s reading, the most interesting take-away is Alex Karenin’s change in attitude toward both Vronsky and Anna.  Alex’s change of heart definitely took me a little bit by surprise.  Discovering his wife being severely ill, he comes back home, with Vronsky there, and completely discovers the character trait of forgiveness.

I truly believe at this point in Alex Karenin truly realizes he loves Anna even though he hadn’t really done a fantastic job of demonstrating it up to that point.  It was definitely a sign of immense character growth for him.  At this point, he has come a long way, and he is truly demonstrating a trait that Tolstoy most likely held in high regard, being able to forgive those who have wronged you.  Obviously, this act is something that Alex couldn’t have understood given his previous behavior toward both Anna and Vronsky.  I was definitely touched with this act of forgiveness, and even more so, that he let Anna be with him after the fact, but Anna had to leave her son behind, which is something that I’ll discuss my thoughts on below.

Anna, in leaving her son behind and pursuing a life with Vronsky had to clearly be a difficult decision for her.  At what point does a mother put her own happiness above that of her child/children?  I don’t quite have the answer for that question, as I don’t have a solid point of reference since I’m not a parent at this time.  But it had to take a toll on Anna’s decision-making, and for her to seemingly just leave like that, Tolstoy gives us the impression it really wasn’t a decision that really pained her to make.

My favorite part of this week’s reading had to be the wedding between Levin and Kitty.  There Orthodox marriage ceremony was described in great detail, from the betrothal ceremony to the actual wedding ceremony.  Tolstoy described this ceremony in such detail, it definitely gives readers a very good idea of how marriage ceremonies were conducted in the late nineteenth century.  And Levin refusing to show up on time because he had the wrong type of shirt was just classic in my opinion!  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have worried so much about the type of shirt I had on, I know I wasn’t when I got married!

The other section of this week’s reading that fascinated me was the exchange between Vronsky, Anna and Mihailov.  It was very interesting to me to see another character, in the form of a painter (Mihailov) being overly critical of Vronsky.  Vronsky’s attitude toward this criticism is what really caused me to do a double-take.  At this point, more than ever, he seems awfully concerned with how others view him in society, not just himself, but Anna.  That was a trait that I didn’t quite notice in earlier sections of the book.

I think this criticism is important for a couple of different reasons.  The first being I think it’s a pretty good indicator of how these pressures may affect the relationship between Anna and Vronsky.  I think these perceptions may reach a boiling point for them in ways in which I can’t foresee at this time, but it will definitely bring additional pressure to their union.  The second is that I think Tolstoy is demonstrating that true love, in order to survive, needs to be able to rise above such trials and tribulations.  Just my own opinion, so I’ll be interested in seeing how that plays out as I get further along with the book.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Anna Karenina, and I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving with family and friends!

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About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

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