I'm getting sad thinking that my time with Anna is coming to an end. It's hard to believe my original post is dated back to January 2010. I'm happy with how we have been reading Anna though - it's important to allow for time between each section (remember Tolstoy published each part separately, this let's us read the book close to how it was read as a new release).
We find ourselves spending quite a bit of time with the men in the novel again in part 7. I know this novel was written for men and women but I enjoy the women the farther I get in the book. I do read the synopsis before reading each section - this seems to help me focus on the key elements to the story. Having read the synopsis below before reading the section I knew a baby would enter the world and Anna would die in part 7. I'm surprised Anna dies with so many pages remaining to the end of the story.
We are using Oprah's discussion guide to help facilitate the dialog. the recap below is from her website.
Part Seven: Death Rumbles By
Death, like love, is a pervasive force in all of Tolstoy's major works—but it has a special power in Anna Karenina, where the death of our heroine takes place under tragic circumstances at a critical point in the novel. We have already come through the prolonged illness and death of Levin's beloved brother Nikolai. We have also been privy to the decline of Anna and Vronsky's relationship. But nothing fully prepares us for the sweeping, aching turn of events that closes this section of the novel. Over the course of Part Seven, we come to realize that Anna is too fragile, her fears too great, the stress on her from months of uncertainty too taxing. Even still, for many of us, the fact that she actually throws herself under the train seems impossible to fathom.
So much of Anna's day-to-day life, the breakdown of her relationships and her resolve, and her choice in the face of losing everything are a direct result of the way she chooses to read her story. Even at her death, Tolstoy will not let us forget this critical fact.
Questions for Part 7
1. Discuss Levin's fascination with Kitty's process of childbirth. Does this seem like a normal reaction to you? When reading about the childbirth and his reaction I was surprised - I expected him to very happy and didn't expect him to think negatively. Levin feel's no connection to the baby and doesn't seem fond of him, even after learning he's a boy.
2. Talk about Anna's extreme jealousy. Do you feel it is founded, or is it a reflection of other things going on in her life? To be honest this is hard for me to understand. I am not a jealous person and can't think back to a time when I felt anything close to what Anna is feeling. She is crazy with jealousy, so much so that it's controlling her life. I can't imagine leaving a child for a lover though either. She has created a difficult situation for herself and can't seem to find a way to be content/happy.
3. Discuss, with as much candor as possible, your feelings about Anna's death. Talk about her reasons for doing it, her choices surrounding it, and what you expect the reaction to her death to be. Anna in part 7 is a different person that the Anna we were introduced to in the beginning of the novel. I can't point to one moment in time but she is clearly reacting to a situation and the helplessness that she feels. As I stated above I can't imagine playing the games that she does throughout the novel, she is a manipulative woman with Vronsky. To end your life just to get a reaction is confusing to me but I know this happens all the time.
I think the initial reaction to her death will be pity. I'm not sure how Vronsky will deal with the news - he seems removed from her but still loves her. I wonder what will happen to the baby since the baby doesn't have Vronsky's last name.