Summary and Analysis
Part 2: Chapters 26-29
Despite their changed relationship, Karenin maintains appearances, visiting Anna each week at their summer villa. When they talk, she chats lightly and rapidly, while Karenin, no longer observing the deceit in her entire attitude, responds only to the literal meaning of her words. His hostility, however, expresses itself by an especial coldness to his son. More shy than ever before in front of his father, Seriozha is reduced to silence as Karenin addresses him with an ironical "young man" whenever he speaks to him.
At the race, Karenin watches his wife gaze after one rider, her eyes never observing how horse after horse falls while many officers receive injuries. After Vronsky's fall, Anna weeps with relief to learn he was not killed and accepts Karenin's arm as he leads her from the pavilion. Driving home, Alexey Alexandrovitch remarks on her "unbecoming behavior" in public, repeating his request that she conduct herself to preserve appearance. "I was and I could not help being in despair," replies Anna. "I hear you, but I am thinking of him. I love him, I am his mistress."
His face assumes the solid immobility of the dead. When they arrive home, he informs her in a shaken voice that she must conform to outward propriety until he decides the measures "to secure my honor." Relieved at having spoken, Anna looks forward to meet Vronsky that evening.
In these chapters Tolstoy shows how Karenin runs his own "race," by plunging himself deeper into his official work he attempts to escape his thoughts about Anna. However he cannot avoid the obvious truth as he observes Anna at the steeplechase. Karenin finds himself not only at the sidelines of the race course but at the sidelines of a situation which engrosses Anna and Vronsky.
Anna's confession, besides relieving herself of an unstated lie, aims at destroying her husband since she only declares what Karenin already knows but fears. Having told Vronsky, "He (Karenin) doesn't exist," Anna's words seem to carry out her wish, for her husband's face assumed the "solid immobility of the dead." Symbolically ridding herself of him, Anna joyfully anticipates her meeting with Vronsky.