Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Anna Karenina Read Along: Part Three

Mari at Bookworm with a View is hosting a Read Along of Anna Karenina.  We are reading one of the novel's eight parts each month.  Here are links to my thoughts and feedback for Parts One and Two.

Mari posted discussion questions for this Part Three on her site.  Feel free to jump in with us and participate in the Read Along!

Part Three Synopsis (Wikipedia):
Levin continues his work on his large country estate, a setting closely tied to his spiritual thoughts and struggles. Levin wrestles with the idea of falseness, wondering how he should go about ridding himself of it, and criticising what he feels is falseness in others. He develops ideas relating to agriculture and the unique relationship between the agricultural labourer and his native land and culture. He believes that the agricultural reforms of Europe will not work in Russia because of the unique culture and personality of the Russian peasant.

Levin pays Dolly a visit, and she attempts to understand what happened between him and Kitty and to explain Kitty's behaviour to him. Levin is very agitated by Dolly's talk about Kitty, and he begins to feel distant from her as he perceives her behaviour towards her children as false. Levin resolves to forget Kitty and contemplates the possibility of marriage to a peasant woman. However, a chance sighting of Kitty in her carriage as she travels to Dolly's house makes Levin realise he still loves her.

Karenin crushes Anna by refusing to separate from her. He insists that their relationship remain as it was and threatens to take away their son Seryozha if she continues to pursue her affair with Vronsky.

My Thoughts:
I was happy that Part Three of Anna Karenina dove back into the love story between Anna and Vronsky.  Anna's husband is frustrating - I want to yell at him to fight for her, but his only concern seems to be for his position in society, and how others may view his decision to handle Anna's affair. 

A brief spark of possibility for Lenin and Kitty is also intriguing - I wonder whether Lenin's pride will keep him from seeing her again.  Learning that she had returned to Moscow without Lenin having visited her was disappointing.   

You would think that this Political Science major would be just as happy with all of the discussion about farming and the farmer/peasant/worker dynamic, but it is not really what I want in a novel.  While I understand the importance of Lenin's thoughts on farming and his relationship with the workers toward establishing the setting for Russia in that day, I find it a bit tiring sometimes.
Discussion Questions (from Oprah.com):
- What do you think about the fact that Karenin considers and rejects the possibility of a duel with Vronsky for Anna? Do you think the fact that he initially decides on divorce instead is reasonable? 

I think that Karenin is more concerned with public propriety and the impact to his career than his feelings for Anna.  Instead of being hurt by her admission of affair, it seems as if he is trying to see the most logical path to assuring his place in society.  I don't think that there was ever a circumstance where Karenin would have chosen a duel with Vronsky - Karenin even thinks of the risk to his own life when considering his opinion.

- Trace the ways Anna has thought of her affair with Vronsky up to this point. Discuss what Anna says makes her happy and unhappy about her situation. Do you think she is being realistic or naive?

I think that Anna has found herself in a position where she lacks control.  She fell in love with Vronsky and is now pregnant with his child.  I believe that she thought that admitting her affair to her husband would lead to freedom to be with Vronsky and live the life that she wants.  While I enjoy the love story between Anna and Vronsky, I do believe that she is being naive - she almost wants to have her cake and eat it too.  She wants Vronsky to offer to take her away, to risk everything as a sign of his love for her, but it is not something that I see he is willing to give her. 
- Do you feel Anna's relationship with her brother and his wife Dolly is a good one? Discuss this dynamic and how you think it may play out as the book progresses.

As I remember it, the only examples of Anna's relationship with her brother and Dolly were in Part One.  Up to this point, Anna was very protective of her brother and came to his rescue when he and Dolly were separated due to his affair.  Anna and Dolly seemed to be very close friends and Dolly respected Anna's opinion.  I wonder whether Dolly will play a role in Anna's life in the rest of the book, now that Anna is a woman having an affair.

Looking forward to Part Four - almost halfway there!

1 comment:

  1. I finished part 4 tonight - It's short and the plot is moving at a nice pace. I can't wait to read part 5!