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 Part I - Pages 1-115

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Minimoosey

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PostSubject: Part I - Pages 1-115   Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:10 pm

Discussion Questions for Part One, Pages 1–115

1. Talk about your initial perceptions of Leo Tolstoy as a writer and his sweeping novel Anna Karenina. What frightens or excites you about reading it?

After reading the introduction I was very excited about the first part of the novel. I think the many stories that will be told in this novel will keep the interest and I love intertwined stories.

2. Talk about the first sentence of the novel. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Do you agree with its assertion?

I do. Every family seems to have the perception of comfort or bliss. Behind closed doors is another thing. In this novel, the members of the families share their "dirty laundry." I'm sure we all do that too in this day and age. As Kelley said we all have our ups and downs.

3. Early in Part One, we meet the Oblonsky family in the middle of a very tumultuous situation: Stiva has admitted to his wife Dolly that he has had an affair after she found a letter revealing his secret. What are your first impressions of Stiva, Dolly and their household?

Stiva is a weak man who gives into his wims of sexual appetite. Dolly is like every woman in those times. She is over-dramatic and very frivilous. Their household seems "normal" for those times. I'm not judging anyone at this point. Dolly does feel that she's ugly and undesireable now, and that would reflect Stiva's feelings toward her.

4. In Chapter V, we are given background into Stiva's character—he is described as "liked by all who knew him." Does he seem likable to you? Why or why not?

Stiva's personality is exceptional. He apparently has to work on his popularity and I can't really see how he could commit adultry so early in his marriage. He does seem likeable to the public, but I don't like him on a family level.

5. Talk about your first impressions of Levin and your thoughts on his friendship with Stiva.

I don't really have much of an opinion of Levin and Stiva. Stiva seems to value his friendship, but doesn't Stiva have many valuable friends. It's probably just Stiva's way. He always wants to help someone, but that could also be how he got to his status in the first place.

6. When we meet Kitty, she is tangled in an interesting web of courtship with two men. Do you get the sense that Kitty will make a good decision for herself? Do you feel she acts "rightly" towards Levin? What does the author say that's interesting about each of the men and Kitty's feelings about them?

I think Kitty and her mother are both looking for the superficial credentials of a suitor. Vronsky is well established and liked. Levin on the otherhand will be the one who wants to marry for love. I don't think Kitty acts "rightly" toward Levin. She is superficial. She got what she deserved at the ball. LOL.

7. Talk about the family traditions discussed in the first part of Anna Karenina. Look carefully through the text and pick out at least five that seem to be particular to this time and culture.

The meetings on set nights seems to be a tradition. The Thursday Night gathering that they have seems to be a social event of the times.

8. 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.

I think Anna is wonderful to Dolly. She listens carefully and gives sympathy from a woman where it is due. She does not really judge her brother which shows us sibling love. I think that knowing Anna will be an adultress makes me lean toward her brother and his faults. I think Anna's relationship with her husband is questionable and there is probably foreshadowing that she is not really happy.

I wonder if she is going to be honest with her brother and sister-in-law when she does her adultering.

9. Talk about the ball and the way Tolstoy writes about the interactions between Kitty and Vronsky, and Anna and Vronsky.

I loved this part. I think Kitty gets what she deserves. She is snubbing Levin and it comes out that Vronsky has eyes for Anna. Anna blows it off and thus doesn't realize that Kitty is devistated. Vronsky really makes it obvious that he wants Anna.

I'm really shocked that at these balls that married woman dance with anyone they want. This only sets up problems.

10. What do you learn about Anna's family life at the end of Part One that seems significant? How is that reinforced by the details the author chooses to show you about her marriage and home?


Anna seems to not have a strong relationship with her husband. He is a very busy man who is gone a lot. Anna in turn is a woman of the times who is very depressed and sometimes emotional. She seems to really love her son, and takes solace in his presence.

One thing that strikes me funny is that she takes the flirting Vronsky as a social problem. Being of a high social stature, she has to "put up" with these men after her. I don't think that is right.






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Kelley
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PostSubject: Re: Part I - Pages 1-115   Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:29 am

Section 1: Chapters 1-17:

An introduction to some of the main characters, thier histories and personalities. Also an introduction to some of the main themes of the novel: love, marriage, adultry, family, class, city v. country, liberal v. conservative, modernization and progress.
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Kelley
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PostSubject: Re: Part I - Pages 1-115   Thu Apr 12, 2007 4:40 am

Section 1: Chapters 18-34:

In this section we are introduced to a few more leading characters of the novel. We see that many of the marriages (most likely arranged) are comfortable, but not necessarily based on true love. We are able to compare Dolly and Stiva, Anna and Alexei, Anna and Vronsky, Vronsky and Kitty, Kitty and Levin. I feel like this is a bit of foreshaddowing to what the main theme of the novel will be.

I also feel as if I have a more thorough understanding of the characters and thier personalities, that we met in the first set of chapters.

I like the parallel of Anna to Levin.
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Kelley
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PostSubject: Re: Part I - Pages 1-115   Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:06 am

1. Talk about your initial perceptions of Leo Tolstoy as a writer and his sweeping novel Anna Karenina. What frightens or excites you about reading it?
My initial perceptions are based not only on a previous attempt at reading the novel, but also the common notion of Tolstoy both Anna and War and Peace, as difficult books. I am excited to read this novel as a group, with not only our discussions but our support for one another. I know I will finish this time.
2. Talk about the first sentence of the novel. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Do you agree with its assertion?
I believe that there is some truth to this statement. All families experience ups and downs, and struggles unique to the people and the dynamics of their family. Not all families are unhappy all of the time, but no happy family is happy all of the time, either.
3. Early in Part One, we meet the Oblonsky family in the middle of a very tumultuous situation: Stiva has admitted to his wife Dolly that he has had an affair after she found a letter revealing his secret. What are your first impressions of Stiva, Dolly and their household?
Stive is presented in an interesting light, that I believe sets the stage for up coming events. He is presented so kind and likeable, that it is hard to see him as guilty. We are introduced to his remorse for being caught, but are aware that he has no regret for the actual affair, and almost believes he is entitled, which I think lends to our inability to blame him. Dolly seems appropriately enraged with the situation. Her response sheds light on the culture that they live in, especially regarding the rules of marriage. I believe that her response is also setting the stage for comparisson, for future events.
4. In Chapter V, we are given background into Stiva's character—he is described as "liked by all who knew him." Does he seem likable to you? Why or why not?
I think he is likeable in a superficial way. He seems the type of person that it is beneficial to know and be on his good side, but one that you would rarely trust as a "great friend".
5. Talk about your first impressions of Levin and your thoughts on his friendship with Stiva.
Levin seems to be the most 'real' character introduced. He is true to himself and his own desires. I am sad that he has such low self esteem. He seems to attach himself to Stiva because he has no one else, he is close to Kitty, and out of a sense of duty to the friendship. I think that Levin is aware of the reasons he is attached to Stiva, and it frustrates him.
6. When we meet Kitty, she is tangled in an interesting web of courtship with two men. Do you get the sense that Kitty will make a good decision for herself? Do you feel she acts "rightly" towards Levin? What does the author say that's interesting about each of the men and Kitty's feelings about them?
Initially I felt like Kitty was going to make the right decision on her own, (which I think is Levin) and turn away from the pressures of her mother and society. I was disappointed when she turned down Levin, and felt like she was a bit disappointed in herself as well. I think more interesting than what is said about each man, is the contrast not only between the two, but between Kitty's parents and their view of what will make their daughter happy.
7. Talk about the family traditions discussed in the first part of Anna Karenina. Look carefully through the text and pick out at least five that seem to be particular to this time and culture.
I am defering to you two on this one, I am interested to see what you pick out.
8. 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.
I think that is a good relationship that Anna has with her brother and sister in law, her interest in their family and relationship, as well as the frankness of their discussions is good for everyone involved. I see the potential for this relationship and the most recent discussion to be a sorce of contention, knowing that Anna is contemplating an affair.
9. Talk about the ball and the way Tolstoy writes about the interactions between Kitty and Vronsky, and Anna and Vronsky.
The ball is an interesting scene, I think it reveals alot of the character's personalities. Kitty not only begins to feel snubbed, but I think she realizes the mistake she made with Levin. Vronsky, who admittedly has no desire to marry, and seemed a bit of a cad to begin with, solidifies his poistion for me, by being so outwardly fond of Anna. He easily dismisses Kitty, in plain view of everyone at the ball. I am start to feel some conflict around Anna. She is caring and motherly and clearly had no intention of being so outwardly attracted to Vronsky, but her contemplation of him makes the reader beging to question her character.
10. What do you learn about Anna's family life at the end of Part One that seems significant? How is that reinforced by the details the author chooses to show you about her marriage and home?
I think that is significant to see that her marriage is one of comfort and respect, but not one of deep love. Her values lie with her child, as he is her main priority. We see that she has a very regimented/scheduled life with her husband, and that her home isn't a sanctuary, but an extension of his work world. I see the potential for her restlessness and dissatisfaction in her situation.
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Karen

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PostSubject: Re: Part I - Pages 1-115   Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:59 pm

. Talk about your initial perceptions of Leo Tolstoy as a writer and his sweeping novel Anna Karenina. What frightens or excites you about reading it?
I have always heard tht Tolstoy was a difficult read and because I knew Brieene had tried to read it a year or so ago and found it plodding I wasn't looking orward to it.
2. Talk about the first sentence of the novel. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Do you agree with its assertion?
I thought it was a nice generalization but, no I didn't think thee was truth to it. Every families perception of both happiness and unhappiness is unique to its makeup.
3. Early in Part One, we meet the Oblonsky family in the middle of a very tumultuous situation: Stiva has admitted to his wife Dolly that he has had an affair after she found a letter revealing his secret. What are your first impressions of Stiva, Dolly and their household?
Stive likeable, tyes, in that he has such a sunny nature and everyone seems to like and sympathasie with him. He represented a genralization of a man in that he was really interested in sex with a beautful, young woman and found no love for a woman who bore him 7 children in niine years and was 'worn out'(five living and two dead)! Jeez!I felt compassion for Dolly Her response seemed true to the times. She was embarrassed but felt trapped . The servant were all for their master.
4. In Chapter V, we are given background into Stiva's character—he is described as "liked by all who knew him." Does he seem likable to you? Why or why not?
I agree, Brienne. He was someone good to know and obviously he was a friend to everyone. He just seemed to kind of bumble through.
5. Talk about your first impressions of Levin and your thoughts on his friendship with Stiva.
Levin was entese, nervous and not like Stiva. They were friends because they hd been childhood friends, and may have never crossed paths as adults, otherwise. He loves Kity but feels unworthy of her, though he actually 'loved' all three of the sisters. The elder two just got snagged up early.
6. When we meet Kitty, she is tangled in an interesting web of courtship with two men. Do you get the sense that Kitty will make a good decision for herself? Do you feel she acts "rightly" towards Levin? What does the author say that's interesting about each of the men and Kitty's feelings about them?
I thought Kitty would hold ou for the more dashing and interesting of the two. she is young and that happens to young women sometimes! I got the feeling she felt she should have considered longer, though.
7. Talk about the family traditions discussed in the first part of Anna Karenina. Look carefully through the text and pick out at least five that seem to be particular to this time and culture.
One i noticed was that Levin and his brother both inherited 8000 acres of land which they did not dived, but instead Levin manages for the both of them
8. 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.
I think that it was a good relationship as well. She came when she knew there was trouble in the house hold and her brother was happy to have her, hoping she could put it to rights..
9. Talk about the ball and the way Tolstoy writes about the interactions between Kitty and Vronsky, and Anna and Vronsky.
Vronsky is more intested in Anna, though he knows her position. Perhaps he felt a fling ws in order and it would not tie him down in marriage Kitty is hurt and realizes that Levins offer was out of true affection.
10. What do you learn about Anna's family life at the end of Part One that seems significant? How is that reinforced by the details the author chooses to show you about her marriage and home?
I agree, Brienne. Theres is no reall spark in her marriage and she is young. she may not have realized what was missing until she became attracted to Vronsky.
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